Freeman volleyball capped a remarkable season last week, even one by their lofty standards.
The Scotties, who placed fourth in state in the 2019 tournament, swept Lakeside in the Northeast A League title match, thus completing an undefeated season in which they didn’t lose a single set.
“It’s always nice to end a season on a win and it’s nice to stay undefeated and to kind of finish in style,” Freeman coach Eva Windlin-Jansen said after the match. “It’s been a weird year, but I think at least that it’s a fitting end.”
With a loaded team this season, the Scotties definitely had bigger aspirations than a league title.
“Well, it’s one of those things where it’s like, it’s the best in the situation,” Windlin-Jansen said. “But you know, you kind of mingle afterward and you’re like, ‘You know, we should be in the (Yakima) SunDome right now and this is how we should end the season.’ It leaves you wanting more. That’s kind of what you take away with it.
“We did what we could. And, you know, you walk away and go, ‘Yeah, we would have had a good team.’ ”
She feels for those seniors that didn’t get another chance at state.
“You know, for the kids that don’t come back, don’t get another shot at it, when you feel like this could have been our year? Yeah, it’s a little tough for them. We did the best we could.”
Windlin-Jansen said the formula this season was pretty simple.
“Well, I think we have good players who work hard, get along, kind of have the right mix of intensity and fun. That kind of, all the other things coming together, a little bit.”
She was able to lean on senior leader Jordan Goldsmith, the 6-foot-2 multiple-time all-league player in volleyball and basketball.
“Yes, for sure,” Windlin-Jansen said. “Even for her, I think she’s grown a lot over the season. She’s been a very specialized player for most of her career. But she’s stayed in the game and played a lot of back row, and she’s a server and she’s been able to pass and that’s been like really fun to see you, to kind of see her grow. I think all the seniors did a really good job of taking responsibility and kind of everybody has their part.”
Goldsmith, who was one of three students injured in the Freeman High School shooting in 2017, signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at San Diego State on Wednesday.
Windlin-Jansen decided before the season she would retire after 14 years with the Scotties. After the NEA title game, she reflected a bit about what this group of players has been through at Freeman.
“You know these seniors, they had a rough, rough go of it their freshman year,” she said. “So now they’re going out, and – it’s never a good time to leave. But I think this is my time to go. We’ve had very good teams. We’ve had a lot of success and it’s somebody else’s turn. It’s time for me to do other things. I can always go watch or do other things.
“You can always get back in, but I think right now it’s time for me.”
Windlin-Jansen took over a building project when she started 14 year ago.
“We’ve been pretty consistently good for a while now, so that’s something to look back on a little bit of pride,” she said.
She’s tried to stay focused on her players and not dwell on her retirement.
“I knew going in this was going to be my last year,” she said. “I was just hoping it was going to be somewhat satisfying to know, ‘OK, you know what, that was a good year.’ We did what we could.
“We did well because they’re a great group of kids. It’s been fun, and the families that are involved – I coached multiples of the same family going through. That’s part of being a small school.”
It finally hit her as she prepared for the championship match.
“It was weird in the gym today,” she said. “It was like, ‘Yeah, this is it.’ Kind of a weird deal.”
Still, Windlin-Jansen was happy to go out on top.
“I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to win the last match?” she asked. “It just doesn’t happen very often.
“We didn’t lose a game all season. So yeah, it’s been a good ride. I hope the kids got some satisfaction out of it. I know it’s maybe not exactly what they had hoped for, but it was still pretty good.”
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