August 13, 2001
It's time to think about Volleyball - One of the stipulations in Evergreen's admittance into the Cascade Conference was the addition of volleyball as a sport. After two years of planning, the Geoducks will hit the court for the first time next Friday against Northwest, in the inaugural home match. With the addition of volleyball and cross country, Evergreen now has nine intercollegiate sports.
Grandpa Bill - The 2001 season marks the return to the college ranks for Bill Lash (32-43 record in three years at Saint Martin's). A former high school and collegiate coach, player, and referee with 26 years of volleyball experience, Lash leads Evergreen into Cascade Conference play. Prior to coming to Evergreen, "Grandpa" spent three seasons at Saint Martin's College, along with five seasons at Centralia CC - with pit-stops at North Thurston and River Ridge High Schools. At SMC, the Tumwater native led the Saints to their first-ever playoff berths in 1997 and 1998, along with second-place finishes in the PNWAC and Pacific West Conferences. The trend of postseason action was also true at Centralia, as his squads qualified for the NWAACC tournament in each season from 1992-96. Lash won the Western Division crown in 1996 and earned NWAACC Coach-of-the-Year honors in 1993.
About the team - Lash has brought in 12 players - nine college transfers and three true freshmen - to make up the dynamics of the Clams. All have extensive volleyball backgrounds and impressive resumés, which will make the 2001 exciting for all.
A young setter: Any team needs a quality setter to distribute the ball for attack. Lash has put that chore in the hands of true freshman Hanna Plunk (Broomfield, CO / Broomfield HS), an All-League and All-County selection as a senior in high school. Although many coaches would fret at having an undersized setter run the show, Lash disagrees. "Hanna is a really skilled player and can run quicks well. Being left-handed is a deceptive advantage for her." Backing Plunk up will be sophomore Elayna Campbell (Castle Rock, Wash. / Lower Columbia CC), who will also see time as a hitter on the weakside.
Bringing the Hammer: The most electrifying position on the court for the fans of the game is the outside hitter. A solid kill off a perfect set can get the crowd on its feet and start a rally. Lash thinks highly of a trio of big boppers, each of whom will be a fan favorite by the time November rolls around. Look for Anna Murray (Olympia, WA / Saint Martin's) to shine in her hometown. The athletic 5-9 transfer played for Lash in 1999 at Saint Martin's. "I recruited her out of high school and she played in a limited role at SMC last year," Lash said. "She has an outstanding jump serve and is the type of player that can carry a team at times." Another clubber is junior Richele Stark (Bellevue, WA / Edmonds CC), a two-time All-NWAACC player. "Richele is a leaper who gets after it and puts the ball away," Lash said.
The surprise of camp - What may have been the biggest surprise of the preseason is the emergence of true freshman Karina Philliber (Graham, WA/ Bethel HS). Lash had expected to groom the youngster this season, but that changed quickly. "I call Karina 'Briar Rabbit' because she is so quick. She can jump out of the gym and hit the ball with authority. I am excited for her potential," Lash said with a smile.
Throwing up a stone wall of defense - In the middle, Lash is looking toward experienced blocker Courtney Brandon (Pomeroy, WA / Walla Walla CC) to lead the charge. Brandon set single-season and career records for blocks at WWCC and earned All-NWAACC honors in 2000. "Not only is Courtney a heckuva blocker, but she can hit quicks really well," Lash said. "She really has clicked with Hanna." Joining Brandon on the front line of defense will be Stephanie Short (Spokane, WA / Spokane Falls CC). "Stephanie is hungry after taking a couple of years off. She is very quick and intelligent at the net - a leader by example," Lash replied.
The mark Mclemore's of the squad - Much of the success to the resurgence of the Seattle Mariners this season has been attributed to the team's utility man, Mark McLemore. Just like the M's, the Geoducks have a trio of players that fit the role - anywhere from defensive specialist to strongside hitter. Freshman Sarah Johns (Olympia, WA / Olympia HS), who just celebrated a one-year wedding anniversary, is the fastest player on the team. Both Sara Campbell (Castle Rock, WA / Bethany College) and Ariel Anderson (Graham, WA / Saint Martin's) fit well within the Geoducks system of deception and quick attacks.
More on the Campbell Sisters - Parents Ed and Jan Campbell will have double the fun when they make the trek up from Castle Rock this season to watch the Clams. Yes, Sara and Elayna Campbell are sisters - Sara the oldest at 23 years young, with Elayna age 20. Both have earned All-Southwest Washington League honors during their high school days and are looking for more at Evergreen.
About the conference - Evergreen will compete in the nine-team Cascade Conference, which is from top-to-bottom one of the toughest volleyball conferences in the NAIA. Both Concordia, who finished the 2000 CCC campaign undefeated, and Albertson qualified for the NAIA National Tournament. Add in Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon, which have distinct home court advantages, and you have a difficult schedule. "The best thing about being the newcomer is that you are the great unknown," Lash said. "We don't know a lot about our opponents, but they definitely know nothing about our team."
Playoffs and cascade college - Six teams will participate in the Cascade Conference Tournament during the second-week of November. One of those teams will not be Cascade College, which will not field a volleyball team this Fall. Athletic Director Craig Moody stated that no coach could be found in time to have a competitive team in place before the start of the season.
Home away from home? - After opening the season at home against Northwest, the Geoducks will live out of uitcases for the following four weeks, playing eight consecutive matches on the road. Team building will definitely be the order of business as Evergreen heads for Salem, OR, Caldwell, ID, La Grande, OR, and a pair of trips to Portland, before coming home. The flip-side is that eight of the following nine games will be in the College Recreation Center.
Changes in the game - A pair of changes will make play interesting - rally-scoring and net serves. Instead of needing a service game to score, a point will be tallied on every serve, hoping to speed up the game. Also, serves that strike the net but continue to the opponents' side will be in play. "My teams are traditionally good side-out teams, which favors rally-scoring," Lash said.
Fore more information: For all press releases, statistics, and team information about every Geoduck athletic team, head to www.evergreen.edu/crc, the official website for Evergreen athletics.