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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Miahna Waters has rewritten Mt. Spokane’s volleyball records

Outside hitter Miahna Waters, shown at practice on Aug. 31, 2017 at Mt. Spokane High School, has rewritten every major record for the Wildcats’ volleyball program. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Outside hitter Miahna Waters, shown at practice on Aug. 31, 2017 at Mt. Spokane High School, has rewritten every major record for the Wildcats’ volleyball program. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Miahna Waters laughs now when she recalls her introduction to volleyball.

The Mt. Spokane senior was in the fourth grade. At the request of Colbert Elementary P.E. teacher Keith Ward, Miahna (pronounced my-ona) decided to try the sport.

“I hated it,” Waters said.

She didn’t play the following year.

Ward again encouraged Waters to turn out for his club team. So she played as a sixth grader.

“That’s when I started to love it,” she said.

Waters quit playing competitive soccer and basketball in middle school to focus on volleyball.

She’s thankful Ward was persistent.

“I go to school now and all I can think about doing is playing volleyball,” Waters said.

Waters will do so for another four years, too. She gave Southern Utah, a member of the Big Sky Conference, an oral commitment early her junior year. She will sign in November.

The 5-foot-7 Waters has been a monster hitter, using a 32-inch vertical jump to overcome her size. She has re-written Mt. Spokane’s hitting records and will graduate with match, season and career marks.

She will also leave her name on the match, season and career records in digs. Southern Utah recruited Waters to be a libero.

Waters takes as much pride in defense as she does hitting.

“After her freshman year, I challenged her to become an all-around player,” Mt. Spokane coach Dave Whitehead said of his four-year letterman and three-year starter.

Waters took the challenge to heart. After all, she knew defense would have to be her ticket to an NCAA Division I school. Outside hitters at those schools are at the least five inches taller.

Last year, Waters set the match records for kills (34) and digs (33). The kills record came in the State 3A tournament semifinal when the Wildcats topped Mercer Island in a marathon match, advancing to the final.

“It was the most fun I’ve ever had playing in a match,” Waters said.

That emotional high, though, was quickly followed by the opposite emotional low. The Wildcats met Lakeside of Seattle in the title match, and Lakeside proved to be a stout challenge.

Lakeside overwhelmed Mt. Spokane as the Wildcats seemingly had spent every ounce of energy they had just surviving the semifinal.

“I didn’t have anything left,” said Waters, whose hitting efficiency in the semifinal was an off-the-charts .507 (34 of 67). “It was definitely the hardest loss I’ve had.”

The Wildcats met behind a curtained-off area underneath the seats at the Toyota Center to gather themselves after the loss to Lakeside. Waters, admittedly, was nearly inconsolable. She was the last player to leave.

“It definitely took me a while to appreciate that we finished second at state,” Waters said.

If it’s not evident by now, Waters plays with a passion rarely exhibited by most athletes. She’s one of the most expressive athletes to come through the Greater Spokane League.

Back when Whitehead coached Waters in middle school, Waters let her emotions get the best of her at times. She knew it was immaturity. Her reactions often were negative and her anger would cause her to shut down.

It changed when she reached high school.

“Back then she was so intense it hurt her at times,” Whitehead said. “She didn’t know how to control herself. She’s grown so much as a person and a leader.”

If it’s not because of her animated reactions to points scored or her own mistakes, Waters certainly can be heard.

“I’m pretty loud, especially in volleyball,” she said. “I’m a screamer. I lose my voice often and I’ll be hoarse at times.”

Waters’ size is no limitation in basketball either. She averaged a team-leading 12.7 rebounds last year. She had career highs in points (20) and rebounds (18) in Mt. Spokane’s season-ending game a year ago.

“I’ve never coached a kid with her kind of will,” Mt. Spokane girls basketball coach David Pratt said. “She plays tremendous defense, takes charges and is the best rebounder I’ve ever seen in my 20 years coaching. She has a passion to win that’s very, very high. You enjoy coaching that kind of kid who leaves it all out there and wills us all to get better.”

Leadership is something Waters takes seriously. While Mt. Spokane returns five players with state experience, the Wildcats have nine new players to varsity.

“The challenge for her this year is to pull everybody up with her,” Whitehead said.

Waters had a season best 439 kills last year. Whitehead said she won’t top that record this fall.

And that’s fine with Waters. It will mean that her team is much more balanced and, in the end, more difficult to defend.

Waters said Mt. Spokane will have at least five options at the net. That will keep teams from keying on her and allow all of the Wildcats to be more efficient.

It’s no wonder Waters believes Mt. Spokane can make another deep postseason run.

“I definitely think we can do it,” she said. “We have to all work hard every day in practice.”

Waters appreciates all the records. But she hopes there’s more to her legacy than just statistics.

“I don’t want people to think I was just a good player,” Waters said. “I want people to remember how much I wanted it, that every point matters and that I wanted to win badly and bring everybody with me.”

And that Waters fell in love with the game – even if it took some time.

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