Last season, the Mount Si High School girls volleyball program enjoyed its finest hour in nearly 20 years.
The Wildcats rose from a middle-of-the-pack team into a state tournament placer, the result of a dream play-off run that saw many close games, many heartstopping moments, and many memories that will last forever for all of those who were part of it.
This season, the team hopes to repeat that unforgettable run.
“The kids came in this year focused,” said Mount Si coach Bonnie Foote, back for her eighth season after a 14-11 mark overall (5-3 league) in 2007. “They are excited. I know that some of the freshmen that have come in, you can kind of hear the buzz amongst them.”
Foote will be assisted once again this season by Dave Bachman, Callie Wesson, and former Wildcat player Amy Ayers.
The senior class that made up the core of last year’s team, including Alisha Larion, are college freshmen this fall, but in their place steps up an equally strong senior group, led by Miranda Pratt.
Pratt, who has already signed a letter of intent to play for Idaho next year, will be joined by fellow senior Mackenzie Peerboom, whose role with the Wildcats was quite important last season, and is likely to expand.
Other key returning players include senior Bethany Frieler, whose play was very solid last season, and junior Robyn Schirmer, who also played a strong role in 2007. With Schirmer’s return brings back her family rooting section, which proved invaluable during the playoff run in 2007. Other players to watch include sophomores Zoe Gogan and Aubrey Larion, and senior newcomer Cortney Tubbs.
The continued growth and success of this program under Foote has resulted in solid turnouts of girls, whose skill level improves every year.
“It’s weird. From the beginning when I first started here, you would have laughed if you had seen our tryouts, because it was like, ‘What’s volleyball?’” Foote said. “Now when you see kids come in, they know what volleyball is. A lot of it is the middle school program, a lot of it is the clubs out there, a lot of it is the camps that I have run in the past.” The program had 43 girls try out for the team this season.
Mount Si will benefit to some degree from the new Kingco 3A alignment. With Newport, Issaquah, and Skyline, all of whom made the district tournament last season, moving up to 4A, the Wildcats and Mercer Island are likely to dominate what is expected to be a very weak league. Interlake appears to be the only team that may contend, but since they will be in 2A postseason this fall, their finish will not affect the Wildcats’ postseason chances.
Even though the league looks weak, that doesn’t mean anything to Mount Si. The Wildcats will be ready to play every game.
“We try not to underestimate any of the teams we play, just because things can change from year to year,” Pratt said. “There’s transfer students, and kids just get better, so we always treat every opponent exactly the same and we just try to worry about ourselves as much as possible.”
However, with the advantages come the disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that Kingco will likely have one or two fewer district tournament berths, and the weakness of the league could prove costly against teams from Metro.
A return to state, once again this year in Kennewick, is not out of the question. However, the road there may be more difficult this time. Last year, it was pretty tough. Still, Schirmer feels at ease. “I’m very confident with our team this year, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be going all the way,” she said.