By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Defending champions: North-Stanwood; South-Shorewood
Without a home, can Everett reach new heights?
The goal for the Everett volleyball team is to make it to the 3A state tournament, but in order to accomplish it they will have to do it without the benefit of playing on their normal home floor at Everett High School.
The Seagulls gym is under construction, meaning they will play their home games at North Middle School and practices will be split between NMS and other local area gymnasiums.
“They were not happy,” Everett head coach Kris Jones said. “They were disappointed, particularly the seniors.”
While the Seagulls will play all their home games at NMS, it is difficult to actually call it home, especially when they can’t practice there every day.
“I don’t know the last time it (NMS) was remodeled, but it’s very old,” Jones said. “The flooring is nice, but there aren’t very many bleachers. It is very different.”
Jones said the girls will have to work extra hard to make sure that whatever seating is available at home games is full.
“This season is going to be what me make it,” Jones said. “It can be desolate with five parents sitting in the stands, or we can really advertise at school and get some students out and we’ll make it our own scene.”
The Seagulls missed out on state a year ago by just two points and Jones said the goal is to be on the other side of those two points come districts.
Perhaps playing on not-so-familiar ground might give Everett an edge in the playoffs.
“We’ve talked to our girls about it maybe being an advantage that we are going through our season without really having a home court,” Jones said. “I think that it will benefit us come districts because it’s not like we are going to be hosting anything. We are going to be on other people’s courts all the time.”
Can a loaded Meadowdale team bring home a trophy?
Meadowdale coach Machem Shrum said she doesn’t ever recall having more than five seniors in any one season as the Mavericks head coach.
This year she has nine.
In fact, nine of the 11 players on the roster are seniors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are all experienced, especially in the postseason.
The Mavericks had gone to state every year for four consecutive season until that string of success was snapped a year ago. Only three of the nine seniors played varsity in 2011 when the Mavericks last made it.
“I want every senior to be able to experience going to the state tournament,” Shrum said. “I have quite a few that haven’t done that before.”
For many of the girls, the disappointment of falling short is driving them to get back this season.
“The final expectation on the girls is that we will make it to the state tournament,” Shrum said. “It was very hard on a lot of them last year to not make it. We kind of came to expect to go every year since we had gone four years in a row. It became one of those things where it was just something we were supposed to do. I think that fire has come back a little bit this year.”
Despite being loaded with seniors, Shrum said she doesn’t feel like the favorite in the league, saying that distinction belongs to the defending 3A south champions from Shorewood, but added that she knows the Mavericks always get other teams best effort.
“I feel like we always have a target on us, but I don’t know that we would be considered the favorite,” Shrum said. “I think probably Shorewood has that title right now because they didn’t lose very many (players). I expect Shorewood to be up there, but I definitely think that we are one of the top teams just from my knowledge of my own team, not even from knowledge of knowing what everyone else has.”
Player to watch
Tenika Wentworth, Everett, setter
First-team All-Wesco setter Tenika Wentworth will be the anchor of the Seagulls offense in 2013 and coach Kris Jones said she should be even better than she was a year ago.
Wentworth worked a lot in the offseason on not just her setting, but also how to run a team and the mental side of the game.
While it is often the hitter that take the notoriety, the setter is paramount to a team’s success.
“It’s basically as important as the quarterback on a football team or the point guard on a basketball team,” Jones said.
Wentworth’s importance was recognized by her teammates, who voted her team captain.
The season is very young, but so far Jones has liked what she has seen from her senior setter in practice.
“I’ve seen even more accuracy than I saw last year,” Jones said. “Overall I’ve seen an improvement from when I said goodbye (last) November and the first day of tryouts.”
Sloane Morrison, Meadowdale, middle/outside blocker
One of the nine seniors on the Mavericks squad is middle blocker Sloane Morrison, although she is not confined to strictly that position.
“Sloane has become a very versatile player in that she is able to attack from the outside, middle and right side,” Shrum said.
Shrum intends to use Morrison all over the court this season, something that should make the Mavericks a more dynamic team, not to mention difficult to prepare for.
“What have really noticed with her the past couple of weeks is a killer instinct at the net and more of a killer instinct in wanting to attack a lot stronger than in the past,” Shrum said.
Morrison’s offseason improvement should make her a more potent offensive weapon than she was a season ago.
“I expect her to tally up a lot more kills and I expect us to be able to get her more attacks,” Shrum said. “Middle blockers aren’t always able to get as many attacks as maybe the outside, but I think this year we are going to be able to use her more.”