After struggling through a 1-14 record last year, Mountlake Terrace outside hitter Kaylee Wagner wants to put the Hawks’ 2018 volleyball season behind her — and the senior thinks this year’s squad can help her do just that.
“We have a really good group of girls this season and I feel we’re going to do better than last (year),” Wagner said. “Last season we hit rock bottom, so we can only go up from here. And I’m just super excited; I feel we have a lot more talent and a lot more to offer.”
Wagner and the Hawks start their 2019 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 12, when they host the Marysville-Getchell Chargers in a 7 p.m. match at Mountlake Terrace High School.
While last year’s Hawk team picked up only one victory, there were signs of improvement during the final two weeks of the season. Terrace was competitive in all four of the matches they played, even pushing Shorewood to five sets before succumbing 3-2.
“We worked our absolute hardest in those games and we just couldn’t finish,” Wagner said of the final stretch of the 2018 season. “But I feel that this year, coming back with our new talent and our new bond, I think we can actually finish this season.”
Wagner believes a lack of team camaraderie and commitment to each other resulted in inconsistent efforts on the court last year; this year’s team will not allow that to happen again, she said.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes last season, which was having a lack of bonding between the girls,” Wagner explained. “So this season we’re really working on that.”
Terrace Coach Krissy Cain, now in her second season leading the Hawks, agrees that a lack of team chemistry helped contribute to last year’s poor record.
“We are going to do a lot more team bonding than we did last year,” Cain said.
Experience is one of the strong suits of this season’s team, with eight seniors on the roster — five (Wagner, Isabel Ong, Jamie Bingaman, Kierra Scott and Kristina Pearce) were part of last year’s varsity squad; three (Skylar Sloan, Dayden Moodie and Ellie Johnson) are moving up after playing on the junior varsity in 2018.
Two juniors with varsity experience — Kiana Hinckley and Kierra Scott — are also back this year and will be expected to help Wagner with big hits at the net.
“Kiana is one of our stronger hitters; she’s really good,” Wagner noted. “She can really get up there even though she’s pretty short. She can jump!”
Wagner also had praise for Scott: “She can find all the holes, all the donuts,” Wagner said. “She’s really smart; her volleyball IQ is just up there.”
The Hawks will be tested early and often this season; two of their first four matches are against 3A state tournament qualifiers from last year (Stanwood and Snohomish) and all of their dual matches but one will be against opponents of the strong 2A/3A Wesco League.
Mountlake Terrace Hawks 2019 Volleyball
Coach: Krissy Cain (second year)
2018 record: 0-14 in 2A/3A Wesco League; 1-14 overall
2019 key players: Kaylee Wagner, senior outside hitter; Kristina Pierce, senior setter; Isabel Ong, senior libero; Kiana Hinckley, junior outside hitter, Kierra Scott, senior outside hitter; Jamie Bingaman, senior middle blocker
2019 first match: versus Marysville-Getchell; Thursday, Sept. 12; 7:00 p.m. at Mountlake Terrace High School
2019 schedule: click here.
— By Doug Petrowski