By Jonie French
Special to the Reporter
Ace! Ace! Ace!
The cheer resounds from both the team and fans as the volleyball whizzes over the net. Claire Lyshol is serving, and this Providence Classical Christian School of Bothell student — recently named most valuable player of the Northwest 1B League — led her team in aces (107) and digs (305) this season.
Don’t be fooled by her reserved off-court demeanor. At just 5-foot-2, Lyshol consistently plays with attack, whether it’s digging, serving or hitting. She clinched the MVP honor in her junior year, a first for the program and for female athletes at Providence.
At the sideline stands coach Lindsey Elliott, enthusiastically guiding Lyshol and her teammates with affirming words and a bright smile. Elliott, in her ninth year as a volleyball coach, was named by her colleagues as 2018 coach of the year for a second time in the three years she has served as the head varsity coach at Providence. Junior Jenna Jenkins was also named to first team all league.
“Coach Elliott whole-heartedly inspires us,” says Lyshol. “She is so hard working and competitive. She wants us to win, but she equally wants us to have fun doing it.”
Although Lyshol began playing volleyball with her local Boys and Girls club in the third grade, her relationship with Elliott began at the sixth-grade level when Elliott was coaching the Providence middle school team. Elliott knew back then that Lyshol was something special, and has enjoyed watching her skills grow.
“Lyshol struggled as a sophomore, working through some personal frustration about whether she was giving her all on the court,” says Elliott. “But she grew immensely over the 2018 club season and showed up her junior year ready to lead. She figured out how to bring her level of club play to small-school athletics. As a team captain, Lyshol is quiet, calm and steady on the court while leading with focus and intensity.”
Even as a libero, a player who specializes in defensive skills and is not allowed to block or attack the ball from the front row, Lyshol was second on the team in kills (124). Instrumental in her team’s success, Lyshol had a season high 41 digs in a “do or die” match during tri-district play. A second upset victory that same night clinched Providence a spot in the 1B state tournament for the fourth time in five years.
“This year’s volleyball team was our best yet,” says Lyshol. “We meshed really well and were able to develop some close friendships that really helped our play on the court. It was tough at first because we had more freshmen than returning players. But once we got to know each other, our volleyball got so much better.”
Small school, big volleyball. With just 49 total students in the high school, nearly 75 percent of the students turned out for a fall sport, demonstrating their enthusiasm and commitment to fielding teams. Providence, just relocated to Bothell from Kirkland, has an enrollment of 264 students pre-K through 12.