T-birds eye turnaround

  • Brendan Shriane<br>For the Enterprise
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 10:50am

SHORELINE — Led by 6-foot-2-inch senior captain Natalie Soules and new coach Kalei Barbour, the Shorewood volleyball team is hoping to shrug off last year’s disappointing 3-11 season and make a run at the playoffs.

“I look for us to win,” Barbour said. “There’s no reason for us not to. We’ve got a balanced squad and I’m looking for good things from them.”

“Anything after last year would be an improvement,” added Soules.

Barbour said experience — the Shorewood roster features 10 upperclassmen, including four seniors — and a new conditioning program she instituted over the summer should help the team reach the district and state tournaments.

“Our seniors are experienced,” said Barbour, who was named as former coach Andy Robertson’s replacement last spring. “Our captain (Soules) is a big leader out there. She’s a senior and she’s had club experience.”

Soules played with the Washington Volleyball Academy in Seattle this past summer.

Barbour said nearly every Shorewood player participated in the team’s offseason conditioning program. Barbour had the team running sprints and the stairs at Shoreline Stadium once a week.

“They’ve been working hard and hopefully that’ll turn into wins,” she said.

One of Barbour’s main objectives as the Thunderbirds get ready for the season is finding the right rotation.

“We need to bring the girls together and find the combination that works best,” she said. “We’ve got some powerful hitters and good setters, we’ve just got to put them together. Once we put it together and get rid of some of the mistakes, I think we’ll get some wins.”

The players are determined to prove last season was an aberration. This group wants to be more like the 2002 Shorewood team that reached the Northwest District tournament.

“We’re all really pumped,” Soules said. “Last year was a wake-up call.”

This year’s team has worked hard and is looking to cash in on its experience, according to Soules.

“Our goal is to make districts and the state tourney and I think we have the ability to do that,” she said. “We’re all good athletes.”

Senior setter Jillian Bruton agrees that the Thunderbirds are ready for a successful 2004 season. She said everyone on the entire team works well together.

“We have so much potential this year,” Bruton said.

Like Soules and Barbour, Bruton is expecting an upper-division finish by the Thunderbirds this year.

“I want us to be the team the freshmen remember,” Bruton said. “When I was a freshman I remember the team from that year and I said, ‘I want to be like them.’”

Barbour thinks this team can pull it off.

“These girls deserve it,” she said. “They work hard, they’ve got talent and good leadership. Now we have to tie things together.”

Talk to us