The Mountlake Terrace volleyball team opens its 2015 season at home on Thursday, Sept. 10, and the first question of fans in attendance may just be ‘who are all these young people?’
There’s a big youth movement happening with the team this year and it extends from the players all the up to the coaching staff.
After a disappointing 3-11 record last year, the school promoted former JV coach and 2007 Mountlake Terrace graduate Renee Noeun to coach the Hawk varsity squad.
Noeun, along with her two new assistant coaches Blissa Tanaka and Anam Masih, believe that their on-going experiences in the sport can take Mountlake Terrace volleyball to a higher level.
“As a younger coach I’m in the game,” Noeun said. “I play on-and-off; and that’s the thing about my coaches, we still play. We play year-round and we see the game evolve. That’s something to show to these girls where if I say something that needs to be done I can show them how to do it.”
While Noeun sees long-term benefits to having a younger coaching staff, she recognizes big steps forward my not necessarily come in one season. This year’s Hawk squad is a young group with only two 12th graders, Liya Ewing and Lauren Miller, down from last year’s roster that featured eight seniors.
“It’s definitely a growing year,” Noeun said. “But I’ve had most of these girls on JV and I think we’re just going to build on what we started last year.”
Noeun is also preaching the importance of playing as a team to the Hawks. “(There are) no individuals, not on our team,” she said. “There’s no star on my team and that’s OK. They all complement each other. I stress for them to focus on each other’s weaknesses and strengths, and to work on the weaknesses. So if someone has a weakness here, usually someone has a strength there to learn from.”
If the squad has team goals, Noeun isn’t sharing them with anyone outside of the squad. “We have team goals, we have personal goals; those are a little bit private. They’re more of something they need to work on as a team, and they’re getting there,” she said.
Achieving team goals begins at practice, and at a recent team prep session most of the squad stayed late to work on additional techniques, something that brought a smile to Noeun. “It’s a good sign. It’s a good sign of commitment,” she said. “I want to stress, that as hard as we work, it’s a fun sport. Our goal is to teach some skills that they can learn on and off the court. And that’s the foundation because, at the end of the day, they’re students, they’re scholar athletes. School is a priority and volleyball is a privilege.”
The Hawks will get two big tests on the court right away. The squad opens the year with Skyline on Thursday then travels to Newport on Tuesday, Sept. 15; both the Spartans and the Knights qualified for 4A postseason play last year.
Mountlake Terrace begins Wesco 3A play on Sept. 17 at home against the Marysville-Getchell Chargers.
“It’s going to be an exciting year,” Noeun concluded. “I think we’re a team to be watching for sure. It’s a very tough league but I think we’re up for the challenge.”
To view the entire Hawk schedule, click https://www.wescoathletics.com/index.php?league=3&page_name=game_schedule&school=40&sport=10.
– By Doug Petrowski