Strong turnout powers solid volleyball squad

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SNOQUALMIE - Despite the loss of several key seniors, including top setter Maggie Olson, now wearing the uniform of the Central Washington University Wildcats, the Mount Si volleyball squad is looking strong this season thanks to a powerful summer camp.

According to coach Bonnie Foote, the top returners include Marissa Hill and Emily White, but naming a few top newcomers from the 22 freshmen is difficult at this time.

"Well, I think coming off of 137 kids from our camp it doesn't surprise me that we had a lot of freshmen. I think that our program is becoming an established program. It's one of the top programs definitely in the area now, and I think that it's starting to show with the younger kids. They're starting to love the game of volleyball as much as we do and we're getting better. We're a growing program," said the fifth-year head coach.

Foote and the players all believe Issaquah will be their top competition in the Kingco 3A, with Mercer Island also getting some notice.

Foote already has some goals in mind for her team.

"Our biggest challenge right now is not going to be getting out of league, our biggest challenge is getting out of districts," the coach said. The Sea-King District will likely be tough again this year, as the Wildcats and the rest of the Kingco found out the hard way last year.

Mount Si had two opportunities to clinch a state berth at least year's tournament at Blanchet High School, but lost both matches and were eliminated from postseason play.

As for Hill, she has big collegiate plans.

"I'm definitely planning on playing for a Division I college. Right now, I'm still kind of confused as to where I want to go," Hill said, adding she is considering a major in broadcasting.

One of the keys to building a great program is to establish a winning culture.

"Winning is an attitude and you got to believe that you're good before you can be good. And I really believe in my heart that when tradition starts to present itself, that kids start believing in what's going on, now winning becomes an attitude and winning is expected, and I came here not expecting to lose," said Foote.

The middle-school programs, particularly Chief Kanim's, help in building the sport up at younger ages, an important component in building any successful high school program. Foote had praise for the Hawks and coach Joyce Kjorsvik.

"Chief Kanim does a great job. She does a great job of promoting our program and she brings her girls into practice on Saturday. Their kids come in and they learn the same things that we're learning," said Foote, who teaches her players a system known as the Gold Medal system.

Foote said the system is used by the University of Washington, but simply because a system is used widely doesn't mean it will pay off. "[There's] a lot of systems out there. It's just a matter of being good at the system and believing in your system and then having your kids believe in your system," said the coach.

Adding to the middle school component, according to Foote, is the fact that among the large group of participants at the recent Mount Si Volleyball Camp, there were nearly two dozen fourth- through sixth-graders.

The Wildcats take on Bellevue at home on Sept. 8 for their first match. Varsity game time is 6:45 with JV and the "C" team at 5:45.

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