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Volleyball in Federal Way: Time for a breakout season?
Volleyball is not the first sport that comes to mind when you think about Federal Way.
The school district has won multiple state championships in soccer, tennis, track and field and basketball, among others.
But no Federal Way volleyball team has ever placed at a state volleyball tournament. Federal Way High School ended up with a third-place trophy back in 1978. The Eagles’ only other state tournament appearance came in 1988.
Decatur has the most state tournament appearances in the district with six, compiling a 4-16 all-time record. Jefferson’s only state tournament came in 1984, when the Raiders went 2-2 and didn’t place. Beamer has never qualified.
Recently, volleyball wins have been few and far between for the four Federal Way high schools. During the past three seasons, the programs at Beamer, Decatur, Jefferson and Federal Way have combined to win a grand total of 11 SPSL matches, which averages to just under one win a season for each team.
The team that might change the winning volleyball drought this season could be Beamer — and their first-year coach, Patrick Taitano, expects nothing less.
“I’ve been brought in to Beamer to change the culture of volleyball and build a successful program,” Taitano said. “We are going to surprise some teams in the SPSL South this year.”
The Titans return some very talented players in outside hitter Alexis Jones, junior Sophie Miller and sophomore libero Aliya Ranis. Senior Megan Stumpf is also making big contributions early in the season, along with 6-foot-1 sophomore Megan Huff and junior Chloe Mensching.
The Titans have started the SPSL South season with a 1-1 record. Beamer lost to Puyallup in five tough games in their league opener before beating Bethel in four games on Sept. 27.
“We will improve and knock on the door for fourth or fifth in the SPSL South, which would be a great accomplishment given that we commonly finish at the bottom of the league,” Taitano said.
The Federal Way program also seems to be on the rise a bit. The Eagles snapped a six-year-long losing streak last year with a win over Bethel. The five-game victory ended a 62-match losing streak by Federal Way in the SPSL. Their last win had come in 2004.
“I am looking forward to this year,” said third-year head coach Donja Walker. “The players worked really hard this summer and played a lot.”
Walker returns seniors Televise Lologo and Maelynn Lautalo, along with juniors Luaipou Lologo and Autisia Westerlund. The Eagles have started the season 0-5, including a 3-1 non-league loss to Beamer.
Kepa Cummings is hoping to turn things around at Decatur. The first-year coach was hired after practice already began, just three days before the Gators played their first game of the season.
“I have enjoyed watching them learn,” Cummings said. “They are a great bunch of ladies and we look forward to getting better and establishing Decatur volleyball as one of the better programs in the SPSL.”
The Gators bring back three seniors in Kendall Jensen, Charisma Toilolo and Alisha Wilson, along with Chelsa Lea’e. Cummings will also count on newcomers A’yesia Rogers, Autumn Hopkins-Clayton, Jenny Fager, Paige Yount and Iesha Slack.
“One of the strengths of this team is the camaraderie and friendship among the ladies,” Cummings said. “They are quick to encourage one another and not get down on each other.”