Bothell High’s volleyball players mean what they say. And they’ve got the bruises to prove it.
“It’s a big deal at Bothell to hustle for every ball. We have confidence in every player out on the court,” said senior captain and outside hitter Blythe Cannon before practice last Wednesday.
To Cannon’s right is junior libero Zoe Iida, who only wears a knee pad on her right knee. Her padless left knee is a collage of blue and purple.
“I’ve banged it up,” Iida laughs, noting that just because she lost her left pad doesn’t mean she should buy a new set. On the superstition side, she wears a “Spider-Man” sock only on her right foot.
But this is the way Cougar volleyballers roll, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. An ounce of humor — and a whole lot of intensity.
That brand of volleyball bolstered the Cougars (9-1 4A Kingco, 13-4 overall) to the state tournament last year, where they first defeated Puyallup in four games before falling to Rogers and Curtis.
Graduating all-league first-teamer Mandy Saintz amassed 18 kills, 12 digs and three blocks in the Puyallup win to go along with 37 assists from second-team setter Lauryn Ernster (who doesn’t return this year) and 33 digs from honorable mention Iida.
Since 1994, Bothell has won 10 league championships and made nine state appearances.
Charnele Odingo, a senior outside hitter/middle blocker, reflected on the 2007 state trip: “It was actually exciting. It gives you some confidence to go forward to make it this year.”
Added Cannon: “I think it sets a standard at Bothell to kind of rise to the occasion.
“Bothell is about pride and tradition, and rising to where you were last year.”
Ironically, it was a matchup with Saintz and company in the Sept. 15 alumni game that gave this year’s Cougs a boost. Sophomore-team coach Kalisa Beyer — a Bothell grad — joked that the alumni would have put in a better showing if they had more practice, but was fully impressed with the varsity’s performance.
“We won the alumni match, which was probably the best for us. We were in the zone,” said Cannon, who noted that the Cougars bonded during the match.
Added Iida: “We thought they would know all our tricks. It brought the team to a whole new level.”
Joining Cannon, Iida and Odingo (an all-league second-teamer last year) on the Cougs’ must-see list are senior defensive specialist Desiree Diego (honorable mention), junior middle blocker Rachael Davis and junior setter Anna Buck, among others.
Coach Marlie Davis feels the addition of top-notch 3A programs Issaquah, Skyline and Newport to 4A Kingco should put her players on the hot seat every match.
“We’re still growing and moving girls around. It’s going to be a good fight,” Davis said. “I’m looking for finding consistency for us right now. You win a lot of volleyball matches on how you pass the ball and how you serve the ball … I’m looking for (consistency).
“Our goal is to compete and get ourselves in a good position in the playoffs — and peak at the right time,” she added while observing her players in a serving drill.
Odingo and Iida know that things will be different this year — with star Bothell players graduating and new teams in the mix — but they feel they can make an impact on the court. Cannon added that the Cougars visualize a successful performance for a minute or two before each match to better themselves.
“We just go game by game, point by point and do our best,” Iida said.
The players agree that coach Davis leads the team by example with her positive attitude and detailed coaching style that points the way to improvement — and wins.
During scrimmages, Davis can be found giving it her all on the court, as well.
“She puts her sweat in there with us,” Cannon said.
“It gives us some laughs that you can beat up your coach,” Iida adds.
Whatever works, as long as it gets the job done.