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Thursday, November 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Area high school volleyball preview

GREATER SPOKANE LEAGUE

Mead, which took fifth at state last year, returns five starters. They are seniors Amanda Chan (outside hitter), Sarah Absalonson (setter) and juniors Maddie Lee (OH), Lindsey Russell (s/rightside) and McKenna Russell (middle hitter). The Panthers bring back five others with experience. … Gonzaga Prep returns four starters – seniors Maddie West (RS) and Ellie Rivard (MH) and juniors Katie Budig (OH) and Emily Zink (S). “We have a wonderful mix of returners and newcomers from a strong (junior varsity) team,” coach Jill Benson said. “They possess relentless pursuit, a high energy level, a deep bench along with superb communication and teamwork.” … University brings back two starters in senior Rachel Schlect (MH), a first team all-league pick, and junior Alex Surby (OH). The Titans also have six other returners. “We will look to battle with the top teams in the GSL for the league title,” coach Mike Summers said. The Titans are seeking a fourth straight trip to state. … Shadle Park returns five starters. They are Josie Walser (S), a returning all-league selection and four-year starter, Hailee Etter (MH), Lindsey Schmidt (OH) and Josie Kinder (S). “We are excellent on offense,” coach Brooke Meyer said. “If we pass well we will be hard to beat.” … Mt. Spokane brings back one starter, junior Maihna Waters (OH), an all-league pick last year. The Wildcats return five other lettermen. Coach Dave Whitehead expects a big year from Waters. “I have two freshmen, one sophomore and three juniors who will play a lot,” Whitehead said. “They’re willing to work hard and listen. They believe in themselves and will battle every match.” … Defending champ Central Valley, seventh at state a year ago, graduated five starters. The lone returning starter is Sydney Johnson (OH). “We have kids who are very versatile and can play multiple positions, which will give us an opportunity to have a variety of looks,” coach Laurie Quigley said. “We are excited to bring in an almost entirely new team and get to work.” … First-year Ferris coach Amy DeAndre inherits four starters. They are seniors Summer Reid (OH), Taylor Rider (MH) and Sidney Lemer (MH) and junior Annika Briggs (OH). … Lewis and Clark brings back one starter in Amanda Reed (MH/RS). Former North Idaho College and CV coach Chris Kosty, who took over as head coach late in the season last year, begins his first season. He likes his team’s work ethic and defense but says his team must overcome lack of experience. … Rogers returns five lettermen led by junior Akon Aleu (RS). Former Mead coach Elaine Rankin takes over as coach. “I’m really looking forward to this season – getting better every day and having a lot of fun along the way,” Rankin said. … North Central’s returning experience is minimal. The Indians’ lone returning starter is senior Marisa Castillo (libero). Coach Pat Rausch said his players are learning quickly that there’s a big difference in the speed of the game between varsity and lower levels. “Our mantra this year is we’re going to be OK with playing ugly and trying to get better every day,” Rausch said. “We’re a young team but there’s a lot of potential.”

GREAT NORTHERN LEAGUE

Cheney and Pullman shared the league title last year. … Cheney coach Heather Zorrozua says she has seven starters back. They are seniors Rylie Pease (OH), KD Skillingstad (MH), Kristie McGouin (RS/S), Marissa Peach (MH), Taylor Gould (OH) and Ally Jones (L) and junior Peyton Stark (S). Pease was a first team all-league pick last year. Zorrozua said her team’s strengths are communication and working well together. … Pullman, a state qualifier a year ago, brings back senior Halley Ghigleri (S), a second team all-league pick last year. The Greyhounds have just one other senior on their roster. … East Valley returns Taylor Sellers (MH/OH), the lone senior on the team. She was a second team all-league selection a year ago. The Knights have seven juniors and three sophomores on their roster. … McKinzie Turner, who coached Oakesdale to a state title last year, takes over at West Valley. The Eagles return four starters in seniors Lily Sinner (MB) and Kim Anderson (OH/MH) and juniors Jaylynn Buehler (S) and Kaitlinn Mullin (OH/RS). “We have a strong group of talented athletes and we are in the process of determining who will play which position,” Turner said. “We have some work to do but the talent and work ethic is great.” … Clarkston brings back two starters in Abbi Auer (MH), a first team all-league pick, and Molly Eggleston (S). “Will start a little slow with young core but should be very tough by season’s end,” coach Ryan Platt said.

NORTHEAST A LEAGUE

Freeman went undefeated to capture the league championship last year and advanced to state for a fifth straight year. … The Scotties return three starters off a team that placed seventh at state. They are seniors Hayley Damon (OH), an all-league pick last year, Anna Gallagher (MH) and Rachel Arnzen (MH). “If we stay healthy we should again contend for a league title,” coach Eva Windlin-Jansen said, citing balance, ball control and experience as strengths. … Lakeside, a state qualifier last year, brings back three starters – junior Lexi Mikkelsen (OH), a first team all-league pick last year, and seniors Saelor Dvorak (OH) and Joelle Mahowald (MH). Coach Kara Moffat, starting her 18th season, said height at the net and scrappy defense will be her team’s strengths. … Deer Park returns three starters. Coach Jack Wood said tempo and serving are team strengths. … Colville returns five starters in senior Gracie Schauls (OH/MH) and juniors Kora Pitts (S), Macy Foulkes (MH), Rylee Merritt (OH) and Cortney Schuh (OH/MH). First-year coach Jacque Bassett sees serving and experience playing together as team strengths.

B LEAGUES

Nothing says dynasty more than Colfax volleyball. The Bulldogs have won three straight state titles, five of the last 2B titles and four straight 1A titles before that. In all, nine state titles in the last 12 years. … No wonder Colfax is picked to dominate area play and contend once again for a state title. The Bulldogs bring back three starters in league most valuable player Carmen Gfeller (MH/OH), Abbie Miller (OH) and Piper Cai (OH/MH), all juniors. Colfax also will benefit from a German exchange student, Johanna Stolle, a 6-foot-1 MH. “She’s played volleyball in Germany,” longtime coach Sue Doering said. “We’re pretty tall and pretty athletic. They work well together.” … Liberty returns four starters. They are Abby Karlis (S), Christine Denny (OH), a first team all-league pick, Savanah Walters (OH) and Madelynne Flaig (MH). Walters was a starter last year for a small school near Twin Falls, Idaho. “We expect to finish in the top two or three in district,” coach Molly Carr said. … Northwest Christian brings back five starters off team that took sixth at state. They are seniors Scarlet Smith (MH), Paris Duncan (MH), Lauren Ward (MH) and Lexi Steinmark (L) and sophomores Paige Dawson (OH) and Hannah Allen (S). “They’re a very, very team-oriented group of girls,” coach Kim Zorn said. “They’re doing a nice job of playing for each other.” … Oakesdale captured the 1B state title and return four starters – seniors Jacey Johnson (OH), all league last year, and Lindsey Lindgren (MH/S), junior Maddy Shrope (S) and sophomore Logan Reed (MH). They also bring back Brandy Brown, who coached the school to three straight state titles when it was combined with Tekoa. … Almira/Coulee-Hartline is doing some retooling. “We are a young team with a lot of talent,” coach Katie Walsh said. “Figuring out a scheme that will work best with the talent we have will be a bit like fitting pieces of a puzzle together. Our potential is as strong as it’s ever been.” The Warriors’ returning starting setter, Tiffany Boutain, must sit out after having back surgery. … Odessa-Harrington returns four starters in seniors Zoe Clark (OH) and Shelbey Watkins (S) and juniors Maleah Davison (MH) and Ty Evers (MH). … Selkirk coach Pam Zimmerman didn’t name any returning starters but said the Rangers bring back seven players with experience. “We have a very good, young team,” Zimmerman said.

5A INLAND EMPIRE LEAGUE

Coeur d’Alene and Lake City were co-champs last year and both finished with 23-6 records. … CdA, a state qualifier, returns four starters. They are seniors Ali Williams (OH/S), Delaney Schmidt (OH) and Isabella Hollibaugh (S) and sophomore Kelly Horning (MH). Williams was first team all-league last year. Coach Dee Pottenger likes her team’s returning experience but the Vikings must blend in some new faces, too. … Lake City returns three starters in sophomores Klaire Mitchell (S), Ashley Kaufman (OH) and Tessa Sarff (MH). Mitchell and Kaufman were first team all-league last year as freshmen. Former CdA standout Jenna (Griffitts) Leggat takes over as coach, the third coach in as many years. “As a coaching staff we’re looking forward to working with such a talented group,” Leggat said. … Post Falls has a new coach. Matt Barkley takes over for Willow Hanna. The Trojans bring back five starters in sophomores Allison Mundy (OH) and Mackenzie Morris (OH), seniors Cassidy Jackson (MH) and junior Sydney Parks (MH) and senior Brittany Deitz (OH). Mundy was a first team all-league player last year. “We have a very consistent serving team and our back row players can control the ball very well,” Barkley said. … Lewiston returns 12 players with experience, and half are seniors. After graduating a large senior class a year ago, the Bengals believe they can challenge for a state berth.

4A INLAND EMPIRE LEAGUE

It’s a rare year when Sandpoint doesn’t qualify for state. So after missing last season the Bulldogs are determined to return. They return four starters in seniors Kayla Neumann (OH) and Laney Search (S/RS), junior Grace Kirscher (MH) and sophomore Grace Hicks (MH/OH). Search was the league’s MVP last year. “We are more physical, experienced and mature,” coach Erin Roos said. “Team chemistry is fantastic and they enjoy competing.” … Moscow, a state qualifier last year, graduated seven players. The Bears return seven, including all-league pick Gracey Meyer (MH), a junior, for first-year coach Toni Claus. Moscow snapped Sandpoint’s streak of nine straight regional titles last year. … Lakeland welcomes a new coach, Adriano de Souza. The Hawks were winless in league a year ago and haven’t qualified for state since 2005.

INTERMOUNTAIN LEAGUE

Timberlake returns all of its starters off an undefeated league team that finished 21-11 overall. Back are seniors Jacquelyn Mallet (OH), Matraca Rocheleau (S), Glori Cheevers (MH) and Courtney Jurgens (L) and junior Graci Allen (MH) and sophomore Kenzie Dean (OH). Dean was a co-MVP last year and Rocheleau and Mallet were all-league selections. The Tigers expect to get back to state and do more than they did in an 0-2 showing last year. … Priest River brings back five starters. They are seniors Heidi Janhsen (OH), Morgan Dement (OH) and Cat Gamma (L) and juniors Emiee Clark (MH) and Olivia Whitter (S). Gamma and Whitter were all-league picks last year. “We are a very scrappy and quick team,” coach Angie Goins said. “We are hungry for a state berth.” … Kellogg brings back two starters in juniors Marley Chambers (S) and Kaili Cates (MH). “They are hard workers and are committed to learning the game,” coach Hollie Yrjana said of her players.”

SMALL SCHOOLS

St. Maries must fill the shoes of three starters off a team that finished 20-3 last year and took fourth at state. The Lumberjacks return three starters in senior Kelsey Auer (S) and juniors Devyn Wilson (OH) and Kaylee Auer (MH). Kelsey Auer was the Central Idaho League’s MVP last year. “These players have a good core foundation of skill, competitive nature and love for the game,” first-year coach Rachele Asbury said. … Brad Veile, head coach previously for 15 years, returns at Lakeside. The Knights bring back five starters. They are seniors Lillian Rhea (MH), Rachel Arthur (MH), Te’a Lambert (OH), Sarah Daman (L) and Corin Peone (RS). Rhea was an all-league pick last year. “Most of the players have been together for four years,” Veile said. “If we can get comfortable with the changes, develop a solid setter and play aggressive team ball, the outlook is good.”

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