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G-Prep volleyball employs ‘Western Wall’ against opponents

Maddie, center, and Sophie West, right, of Gonzaga Prep are nicknamed the
Maddie, center, and Sophie West, right, of Gonzaga Prep are nicknamed the "Western Wall" for the sisters' blocking ability. (Jesse Tinsley)

Sophie and Maddie West practice what can be called the opposite of a sibling rivalry at Gonzaga Prep.

Senior middle hitter Sophie and junior right-side hitter Maddie – born 18 months apart – like nothing better than playing side-by-side on the Bullpups’ talented front row.

“We both love playing against each other, but it’s more fun playing with each other,” third-year varsity starter Sophie said. “There’s nothing like being next to each other, blocking, or if I assist her and she hits. I might be louder and she might be more laid back, but we’re both definitely out there to win and support the team.”

“They’re a very tight-knit family and their whole family scenario is that they are buddies,” G-Prep volleyball coach Jill Benson said. “They look out for one another. It’s really neat to see. Sophie, the older one, really takes care of Maddie. It’s not a typical sibling rivalry. (Sophie is Maddie’s) biggest fan, which is very cool.”

Another third-year starter, 6-foot-1 senior MH Maria Adams, came up with the moniker “The Western Wall,” proclaiming that nothing gets over the Wests when 6-0 Sophie and 6-2 Maddie are blocking at the net.

“(Maddie) has the height, but Sophie has the raw power,” Benson said. “She’s a lot stronger in body where Maddie’s a lot longer in body. … Maddie still needs one more year and I’m hoping she grows into her long, lengthy limbs.”

The Wests are third-generation Bullpups, following their grandfather and 6-7 father Kevin, who played basketball at G-Prep. Mother Jennifer (5-11) grew up in Oroville, Washington, and was a runner at Forest Ridge High in Bellevue.

Sophie started playing volleyball in fifth grade at Cataldo Catholic School and Maddie soon followed. The two have played on opposing club teams but prefer being on the same side of the net.

Sophie, in the midst of determining where she’ll play in college, is the more boisterous of the two.

“I guess I do my own thing,” Maddie said. “She’s more aggressive and louder, but I try to focus on leading by example.”

Sophie carries a grade-point average of 3.95 and hopes to study business, economics or accounting in college.

Both sisters plan to referee Catholic school volleyball games on Sundays this season.

G-Prep seeks to qualify for state for the third time in school history and the first since 2004. The Bullpups’ season ended at the 4A regional last year.

“I have experience with two strong middles while a lot of teams have new players in positions,” Benson said. “I think for us it’s now we have the confidence that we know that we belong there.”

“We’re always trying to get better, especially with what we struggled with last year, which is mostly defensive things,” Sophie said. “Our coaches have been teaching us new (defensive) systems and we’ve improved a lot.”

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