Edmonds Community College volleyball sailing again

Two years after a winless season, the Tritons are on the verge of an NWAC North Region title.

Edmonds Community College volleyball coach Tony Miranda talks to his players during a blocking drill during Monday’s practice on campus in Edmonds. The Tritons have flourished under Miranda, and have a chance at a NWAC North championship. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Edmonds Community College volleyball coach Tony Miranda talks to his players during a blocking drill during Monday’s practice on campus in Edmonds. The Tritons have flourished under Miranda, and have a chance at a NWAC North championship. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

EDMONDS — Two years ago the Edmonds Community College volleyball program was a mess.

That season the Tritons finished 0-12 in Northwest Athletic Conference’s North Region, and Edmonds’ 4-25 overall record was the second-worst among all NWAC teams.

So who could have imagined that two years later Edmonds would be playing for a region title?

The Tritons can earn a share of the North Region title in their regular-season finale Tuesday night at Bellevue, and that illustrates the magnitude with which Edmonds’ volleyball program has risen from the ashes.

The Tritons go into tonight’s decisive match at 9-2 in the region and 26-14 overall. Edmonds is one game behind Bellevue, so a victory over the Bulldogs would give the Tritons a share of the region title.

“I think we have a really good chance of winning,” said freshman outside hitter Michelle Dmitruk, a graduate of Cascade High School who leads the team in kills and aces. “I feel like if we’re energetic and play our own game and don’t get in our own heads, we’re going to have a really good chance of winning.”

Those are the type of words no one would have expected to escape the lips of a Tritons player two years ago.

Edmonds had a quality program in the late 2000s. Tony Miranda was the head coach from 2007-09, and during those three seasons the Tritons went 72-58. Edmonds won the North Region title in 2008, and that team went on to place third at the NWAC Championships.

But the Tritons suffered a dramatic drop after that. From 2011-15 Edmonds went just 10-49 in the region and 25-120 overall. Between 2014 and 2015 the Tritons won just six of their 58 matches. So the administration decided it was time for a change.

“We want to provide a great student-athlete experience, both on and off the court, and you can have a four- or five-win season and still be a success,” Edmonds athletic director Spencer Stark said. “But where we were at, it was time to win. We knew the student-athlete experience was being affected by not being competitive. So it was time to get someone in here who would change the program.”

That someone? None other than Miranda. He departed after 2009 so he could follow his daughter Debbie’s high school career at Edmonds-Woodway and college career at Tacoma CC. But once those were done, Miranda was ready to get back into college coaching, and the Tritons were ready to have him back.

“It was kind of tough seeing the program that I helped [win the 2008 North Region title] get to where it had gotten to in eight years,” Miranda said. “Three bad years in a row and I was ready to come back if they needed me back.”

Miranda’s return started paying dividends immediately. Miranda brought credibility back to the program, along with the volleyball expertise accumulated during 26 years with the NW Juniors Elite Volleyball Club, where he remains the director. Miranda brought in players from as far away as Alaska and California, and the Tritons went 5-7 in the region and 26-18 overall last season to earn a berth to the NWAC Championships.

“The moment I spoke to him I knew he was the coach who had the best mindset,” said sophomore setter and co-captain Macy Magri, who came to Edmonds all the way from Fresno, California. “He was looking for a really successful program, he wanted to turn around a school that wasn’t doing so well, and I thought, ‘You know, I can be a good player for that, that’s kind of my role, that’s what I like to do. Why not, a culture shock may be good for me.’ But I honestly think it’s the best choice I’ve ever made, I’ve grown so much here in this program and with Tony.”

And the Tritons have taken another step this year, despite having just three players return from last season’s team.

“I think we’ve had a really good season,” said sophomore middle blocker and co-captain Sydney Lawrence, a Pullman native who leads the team in blocks and ranks second in kills. “Everyone’s been working really hard, and it’s been probably the most-fun team I’ve ever played on. Everybody has great attitudes, they all work hard every day at practice, and off the court we’re all really good friends, so that helps a lot.”

Edmonds has already clinched a berth to this year’s NWAC Championships, which take place Nov. 16-19 at the Tacoma Convention Center. But going as the No. 1 seed — Edmonds, which lost its first meeting against Bellevue in straight sets on Oct. 11, holds the tiebreaker against the Bulldogs based on a random draw — would be that much sweeter.

Especially given where the Tritons were just two years earlier.

If you have an idea for a community sports story, e-mail Nick Patterson at npatterson@heraldnet.com.

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