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Decatur returns plenty from post-season team
By CASEY OLSON
The Decatur Gator volleyballers were the only team from the Federal Way School District to qualify for the postseason a season ago. The Gators finished fifth in the South Puget Sound League South Division with a 5-4 league record.
Decatur, however, didnt spend too much time in the playoffs. The Gators ran into the three-time defending Class 4A state champions, Kentlake, in their opening-round, loser-out match.
But the good news is coach Kelly Kirk returns a lot of the talent from that team who got a small taste of postseason volleyball in the rugged SPSL.
We should be a playoff contender, Kirk said.
The best of those returners should be senior outside hitter Allison Iwasaki. The 5-foot-9 Iwasaki was named first-team All-SPSL South following last season and plays select volleyball with the Puget Sound Volleyball Club during the offseason one of the best programs in the state.
Kirk also returns Katie Wilson, Stefanie Rojas, Caitlyn Elya and Kathleen Paine. He will also be counting on newcomers Aleesha Camarao, Tiffany Baine, Socheata Lim, Ashley McCarney and Brittany Kohler.
The Gators opened their SPSL South preseason Thursday against Beamer and will travel to Decatur Monday. League play starts Sept. 21.
Spanaway Lake and Emerald Ridge look like the two teams to be in the South. Bethel should also be solid. The top-five teams in the standings earn berths into the SPSL Tournament.
The Todd Beamer Titans enter their second season in the SPSL South and will again take the court without a senior on their roster.
Bliss Carlson will feature a team with five juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.
This is still going to be a building year, Carlson said. We have a young team who is aggressive and eager to learn new skills.
Carlson will be counting on co-captains Malia Miller, a 5-8 middle blocker, and 5-7 setter Manna Bocchi to provide the leadership for the young team that finished 1-12 in the South a season ago. The Titans will be without their leading hitter from last year. Selena Dickerson transferred to Federal Way during the summer.
Newcomers Chelsie Nichols and McKenzie Goff should provide Carlson with some depth.
Beamer will travel to Jefferson Monday for an SPSL non-leaguer. They start playing actual league matches Sept. 21 when they travel to SPSL South favorite Spanaway Lake.
Robin McNett takes over a Jefferson volleyball program that returns a lot of experience from last year.
Back are seniors Jessica Pate and Lisa Clark and juniors Emily Seekins and Megan Housman. The Raiders also return talented sophomores Jenna Bronson and Jill Halvorsen.
As we build from last year, we hope to be more competitive in the league and get better with each game and practice, McNett said.
The Raiders finished the 2003 volleyball regular season with just one win in the SPSL South. But things have started out a little better for the Raiders this season. Jefferson won a tough four-gamer over Tahoma last week to open their season thanks to strong serving and defense.
The Raiders will host Beamer Monday night in a non-league match before opening their SPSL South schedule Sept. 21 against Rogers.
The Eagles got some good news during the offseason when junior Selena Dickerson transferred to Federal Way from Beamer. Dickerson should help the Eagles improve on their 6-9 record a year ago.
Coach Teri Tuttle will also be counting on a strong senior class to provide leadership and work ethic. The seniors include Alicia Novak, Stacey Gibson, Pam Butler, Michelle Butler and Leslie Davis.
Tuttle lists the Eagles strengths as unity, heart and they work hard. Federal Way opened its season with a non-league loss to Sumner on Tuesday. They open their SPSL South season Sept. 21 at home against Emerald Ridge, one of the favorites in the league.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com