The Mountlake Terrace volleyball team will begin the 2014 season this week in a role it hasn’t known for more than 30 years: as the defending Wesco League champions.
The Hawks claimed the 2013 title with a 12-3 regular season record and a group of close-knit, hard-working teammates. It was the best result ever for long-time coach Marietta Snyder, who is hoping for more of the same in 2014.
This year’s team, despite losing five graduating squad members, is already showing signs of team chemistry that Snyder hopes will bond them both on- and off-the-court.
“It’s so important for the girls to have that bonding for the season,” she said.
Snyder is starting her 11th season as head coach of the Hawks, a longevity that is paying off in continuity and satisfaction. “We were just talking about that. Both of my assistant coaches played for me, so they’re coming back into the program and getting involved in the community. I love that,” Snyder said.
Building the type of relationships that bring former players back into the fold as assistants is one of the reasons that Snyder sticks with coaching. “It’s not for the money,” she joked. “It’s for the girls and the love of the sport.”
Snyder will have some big shoes to fill this year with the departure of 2013 captains Madison Eich, Meg Roberts, and particularly setter Justine Kelly. Senior Andrea Cox will be called upon for the majority of setting responsibilities, but also has the capability playing as an outside hitter.
With Cox’s versatility, setter Grace Nancukidi will see plenty of time on the court for the Hawks, something the sophomore is really looking forward to after missing the entire 2013 season due to an ankle injury. Nancukidi, who had been slated to play on the junior varsity squad as a freshman, was hurt the first week of the season last year.
“They think there may have been a fracture, so they kept me out the whole year just to be sure,” Nancukidi said. The varsity team newcomer was able to play for her club volleyball team over the past few months and looks ready to contribute to the Hawks’ effort to defend its title.
Terrace will have a number of players returning from last year’s championship squad, most noteably Cox, Emily Eich, Alisha Clingan, Nicki Bouche and Ali Hitchcock; Eich, Clingan and Bouche will serve as team captains.
The Hawks begin the 2014 season on the road with a Wednesday, Sept. 10 matchup against the Skyline Spartans. Wesco League play begins on Sept. 18 with a trip to Marysville-Getchell, and will end with a home match against newly-reclassified-to-3A Edmonds-Woodway on Oct. 29.
– By Doug Petrowski
To view the entire MTHS volleyball 2014 regular season schedule, click http://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?league=3&page_name=game_schedule&school=40&sport=10.