By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
Defending champions: North—Monroe; South—Jackson
Key storyline: How good can Snohomish be?
The table seems to be set for Snohomish to make a run at the state tournament.
Jackson is expected to be good, though does not have the returning talent they have had the previous three seasons and Monroe, the previous 4A north champion, graduated its best hitter, Melina Seabrook.
The Panthers biggest weapons is senior outside hitter Lanesha Reagan. As one of the best hitters not only in the state, but in the country, Reagan is the unquestioned leader of a team looking to return to state after two consecutive years of disappointment.
As a freshman, the future appeared very bright for Reagan, who helped her team to a fifth place finish at the 4A state tournament, but they haven’t been back since.
“Two years ago injury bugs really hit us hard the past couple games of the season,” Tarin said. “If it weren’t for injuries I believe we would have been in the state tournament and been able to make some noise. Last year we we’re disappointed. We had a lot of chemistry issues and girls just not buying into the team philosophy.”
This year, the Panthers have a good nucleus of young talent to go along with Reagan and Tarin said the issues from a year ago no longer exist. He expects the Panthers to be physically and mentally tough enough to make a run at not only advancing to state, but winning it.
“We believe that we have a good window of opportunity of establishing a name in the volleyball world for Snohomish High School,” he said.
And it doesn’t matter to him or the team who is standing in their way.
“It might be a cliché, but every team to us is a team that is in the way of our goal and what we want to accomplish,” Tarin said. “Whether it be Jackson, Kamiak, Lake Stevens or Monroe it doesn’t matter. Any team is capable of beating us on any night and we know that so we have to be giving it our all because they are going to be giving it their all against us.”
For a look at the new-look Jackson volleyball team, click here.
Players to watch
Lanesha Reagan, Snohomish, outside hitter
Reagan is not only one of the top hitter in the state, but in the entire country. She was voted first-team All-Wesco and second-team All-Area a season ago and Panthers head coach Alex Tarin expects her to improve on that this season.
“I expect her lead the league, and really the state, in hitting categories,” Tarin said. “I expect her to be a strong leader on and off the court. She is already started to do that, just in practice setting the tone.”
Reagan might have been overshadowed a bit in Wesco 4A by Jackson and its star hitters Emmy Allen and Miah Diirell for the past few seasons, but with them gone and Reagan back for her senior year, it could be time for the Panthers to assert themselves among the state’s elite.
“She’s wowed me enough in practice already,” Tarin said. “And it takes a lot to wow me when I’ve seen her for the past three years.”
Tarin said Reagan has increased her physical strength each season, but equally important has been her mental approach to the game. He said he has never seen her more determined and that dedication to go along with her supreme talent should make her the early favorite for All-Area Player of the Year.
Julia Hutchison, Edmonds-Woodway, libero
Edmonds-Woodway head coach Nicole Bordeaux said Hutchison is known for being vocal on the court. She is constantly communicating and encouraging her teammates and giving everything she has.
“As a player she’s one of a kind,” Bordeaux said. “She loves this game more than anybody that I’ve ever coached or played with. Whether it’s in practice, in the offseason or on the court she always gives 100 percent. I’ve never seen her give less than that.”
Her voice on the court and defense are among the 2012 first-team All-Area libero’s strengths.
She is the leader of a large group of returners for the Warriors that have high hopes of advancing to the 4A state tournament this season.
“She’s just a natural leader at heart,” Bordeaux said. “Everybody feeds off of her energy.”