With 40 girls turning out for volleyball this year, the Cougars might be lacking in bus space this year as they try and qualify for the post-season for the third consecutive season.
“Our defining quality is our team’s commitment to each other,” Baker said. “Each player worked hard to bring forward the strengths of her teammates. I think our fans will also see a more spontaneous team as compared to last year. Our players have good instincts and they aren’t afraid to take risks.”
With the smallest enrollment in the NEA League, Chewelah was 4-12 last year. This year the squad has more youth with two freshmen and two sophomores joining the varsity roster.
“We are a bit smaller than last year which will change our strategy for both offenses and defense,” Baker said.
Another big change has been the schedule.
With the league volleyball season starting a week earlier this year, the Chewelah Cougars did not have any room at the front of their schedule to play any pre-season matches. The only opportunity Coach Shirley Baker had to evaluate her players in competition was at last week’s Colville jamboree.
“The regional crossover tournament against the Caribou Trail League was reinstated this year, so our league season had to be moved up a week to make room for it at the end district play,” said Coach Baker.
At the jamboree, the Lady Cougars won four games and lost two. They split games with Colville and Sentinel, and they swept both games against Kettle Falls.
“I like having a pre-season jamboree,” said Baker. “It gives me chance to put different combinations of girls on the floor in different situations to see how well they play together.”
With less height this year, Baker is focusing her practices on maximizing the team’s quickness and agility.
“Our trademarks this season will be serving and scrappy defense,” said Baker. “We have also been working hard on hitting and passing techniques.”
To promote teamwork, Coach Baker and her assistants Melissa Church and Maddy Kernan,hosted a team retreat to begin the season and brought in a motivational speaker.
“We all want a positive season this year,” said Baker, “so we spent a day in working on goal-setting, commitment, and building team spirit. We want this season to be a positive experience for the girls, and that does not focus primarily on just winning.
Baker has divided her players into three teams with 12 on varsity, 12 on junior varsity, and 14 on C squad.
The varsity team has six returning girls: state track medalist Kyrstan Miller, Ellie Wharton, Savannah Nupp, Krislyn Koler, last year team MVP Jaelynn Skok, and Elizabeth Chalmers.
Also selected to wear varsity uniforms were Andrea Franks, Bailey Smith, Emily Adams, Karalee DeSautel, Elle Carpenter.
Baker said that the squad will have to play aggressive defense and execute a varied offense which will keep opponents off-balance.
She also believes that perennial powerhouses Freeman and Lakeside will again be the strongest teams in the league.
“I anticipate that they will place one and two again,” Baker said. “This year we return to the regional format so we have a chance to earn three sports to state rather than just two.”
The Lady Cougars opened their season on Tuesday with a league match against Newport. This Thursday, they will host Freeman.
By Geno Ludwig/The Independent Staff
League: Northeast 1A League
Coach: Shirley Baker
Team Breakdown: The Cougars will swim or sink together, but one thing they won’t be short of is players: 40 girls came out for the team this year. Chewelah returns six varsity players and could improve on a four-win season last year with team quickness and agility.
2016 VARSITY VOLLEYBALL ROSTER
1. Andrea Franks, Junior MB
2. Bailey Smith, Sophomore OH
3. Krislyn Koler, Junior OH
4. Elle Carpenter, Freshman Setter
5. Elizabeth Chalmers, Junior Setter
6. Emily Adams, Sophomore DS
7. Karilee DeSautel, Sophomore MB
8. Ellie Wharton, Senior OH
9. Skyla Tunison, Freshman MB/OH
10. Savannah Nupp, Senior DS/OH
12. Jaelynn Skok, Junior DS/Libero
14. Kyrstan Miller, Senior OH
2016 JV VOLLEYBALL ROSTER
1. Lilly Kirry, Freshman
2. Jessie Macrae, Freshman
3. Alyssa Fitzgerald, Freshman
4. Makayla Erickson, Sophomore
5. Meghan Miller, Sophomore
6. Haven Rainer, Freshman
7. Larissa Sweat, Sophomore
8. Amber Norman, Sophomore
9. Harmony Kuk, Freshman
10. Leah Carpenter, Freshman
13. Zandra Nelson, Freshman
15. Taya Tapia, Freshman
Hailey Crise, Freshman
2016 C-SQUAD VOLLEYBALL ROSTER
3. Megan Salapka, Junior
4. Jayany Selvanayagam
5. Jimin Park
6. Sara Maranta
7. Cheyanne Kayser, Junior
9. Willow Clark Hubert, Freshman
10. Hina Shibata
11. Avery Arnold, Freshman
13. Faith Hansen, Sophomore
14. Autumn Glover, Freshman
15. Megan Kalua-Elkins, Senior
21. Evie Brewer, Freshman
23. Autumn Guenther, Freshman
28. Melanie Bryant, Freshman
Tessa Detillion, Freshman
2016 VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE
Sept 8 Freeman 5 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Deer Park 5 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Lakeside 5 p.m.
Sept. 19 at Springdale 5 p.m.
Sept. 20 Riverside 5 p.m.
Sept. 22 at Medical Lake 5 p.m.
Sept. 27 Colville 5 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Newport 5 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Freeman 5 p.m.
Oct. 6 Deer Park 5 p.m.
Oct. 11 Lakeside 5 p.m.
Oct 13 at Riverside 5 p.m.
Oct. 18 Medical Lake 5 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Colville 5 p.m.
Oct. 24 League Tiebreakers
Oct. 25 NEA League Tourney
Oct. 29 NEA League Tourney
Nov. 5 Regionals
Nov. 11 State Tournament in Yakima
Nov. 12 State Tournament in Yakima