Central Valley and University both finished 6-10 in Greater Spokane League volleyball during the 1992 season, a typical showing for the Valley teams of a generation ago.
From 1978-99, their overall league records were 126-227 for CV and 104-249 for U-Hi. Most seasons, the teams finished in the lower half of the standings and seldom challenged league powers Shadle Park, Lewis and Clark, Ferris and Mead.
This week’s State 4A tournament at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey shows how the league’s power has shifted. CV, fresh off winning the first GSL, District 8 and 4A regional titles in school history, returns to state for the third time in four years – the only state appearances in Bears history. U-Hi, last year’s GSL co-champion, played at last year’s State 3A tournament and makes its fifth state appearance.
U-Hi opens at 1:30 p.m. against Kamiak and CV will start against Battle Ground at 3:15.
Both schools are led by second-year coaches from out of the region. Amanda Bailey came to CV after many successful seasons in Mississippi and Florida. U-Hi coach Mike Summers built solid programs in Minnesota.
The two say many factors have led to the Valley’s rise in stature: talent that was already present; the infusion of new ideas and quicker offenses; players who committed to volleyball as their main sport and honed their talents with club play; and the general pendulum that affects all high schools.
“I think that it comes in waves,” Bailey said. “I think you get a strong group of kids in a certain grad year and it just carries over. I think club plays a huge role in it. I have 13 players on my team and 12 of the 13 play club and volleyball’s their primary sport.”
“I think it’s more of a kind of lucky thing, but CV and (U-Hi) kind of run some nontraditional things as far as what we do offensively and defensively, so that might have some impact on the power shift,” Summers said.
Bailey, Summers and Gonzaga Prep coach Jill Benson arrived on the scene last year and immediately shook up the status quo.
“In our first coaches’ meeting we were really wondering why brackets were set up the way they were, why we were nominating kids the way we were, and some of the other coaches were not as happy with that,” Bailey said. “But I don’t know that we upset the apple cart. I don’t think there was anything pretentious. I just wanted to be successful … and I think at U-Hi and CV we had the talent to do it.”
“All the new coaches who came in, it’s probably just a breath of fresh air, so to speak, just bringing some different flavors and some different ways of doing things, perhaps versus kind of the standard-type stuff,” Summers said. “We run a fast-tempo offense and CV tries to run a fast tempo as well. That might be kind of nontraditional for the GSL.”
The GSL of a quarter-century ago featured coaches who were rivals on the court but best friends off. Postgame gatherings for food and drink were commonplace.
That idea seems strange to the new-look coaches.
“I don’t know that we’re NOT friends, but we just coach against each other and go our own ways,” Bailey said of Summers. “I don’t think we’re unfriendly or anything like that. There aren’t opportunities to socialize or anything like that.”
“I have respect for Amanda and the things she’s done in her first two years, and I think she’d probably say the same about us here, but being main rivalry schools, that’s (being off-court friends) probably not going to happen …” Summers said.
Both coaches see bright futures because of strong freshman classes. Both also believe G-Prep, Mead and Shadle will be ready to press the Valley schools next year.
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