The future looks promising for Archbishop Thomas Murphy’s volleyball team.
In their first-ever appearance in the postseason, the Wildcats had a brief but fruitful run in last week’s Northwest District 2A tournament.
Archbishop Murphy opened with a 3-0 loss to Mount Baker but then rebounded for a 3-0 victory over Cascade Conference rival Lakewood. The Wildcats then were eliminated by league rival King’s 3-0 in a loser-out match Nov. 6 at Meridian High School.
“They played very, very well in the tournament,” Archbishop Murphy coach Mike Bettinghouse said of his players.
The progress of the Wildcats this season amazed Bettinghouse.
“Every single person on the team improved so much,” he said. “We had kids starting out that didn’t know what positions they would play.”
Archbishop Murphy was coming off 3-13 season against 1A competition. This year the Wildcats faced 2A and 3A teams in the new Cascade Conference and ended up with a 7-3 record against 2A schools and finished the year 8-9 overall.
The tougher competition ended up being a benefit for the Wildcats.
“Each time we played those (2A/3A) teams we got better and more determined to do better,” Bettinghouse said. “They never gave up … they worked hard to get better every day. They were focused on that and determined to do that.”
Archbishop Murphy graduates only two seniors, but Ashley Werner and Kyla Thompson played significant roles.
Werner had probably the most challenging position on the team. She was a setter and outside hitter.
“She contributed in many different ways,” Bettinghouse said. “She was a good, consistent setter, a good blocker and a dependable hitter.”
Thompson played several different positions throughout the season including middle and outside hitter.
“She adapted to every position,” Bettinghouse said. “She was another key player and a great leader on the team.”
The core of the team — juniors Lisa Coate and Christina Mitchell — are back and will be joined by a talented group of sophomores and freshmen. Several promising incoming freshmen also should battle for positions next season.
Coate was moved from the outside to the middle and became a force there.
“Teams really had to adjust what they did,” Bettinghouse said.
Mitchell, an outside hitter, came on strong by midseason and developed into one of the Wildcats’ most consistently hard hitters.
“I think we’re going to build a lot (on this season),” Bettinghouse said. “Our kids and our entire school is so proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
Success also seems to have spurred interest among many of the Wildcats to play in the offseason. Last year about five players expressed interest in playing club volleyball. This year the number has swelled to 18.
Many of the players have only begun to realize their potential as volleyball players.
“We have good athletes,” Bettinghouse said. “They just need to learn how to play volleyball. They are really starting to focus on how to play the right way.”