Editor’s note: The following sports preview is a continuation from the Aug. 25 issue.
Coach: Kim Culliton
2016 record: League: 2-6, Overall: 2-12
Key returner: Renee Tiumalu (OH)
Key departures: Savanna Service (MB), Mallorie Post (MB)
At a glance: The Titans are confident heading into 2017, with fresh talent ready to have an impact on the season. One player coach Kim Culliton is excited about is Leana Liu, an outside hitter and transfer student from Auburn High School whom Culliton said is a great addition to the team.
“We are looking pretty strong,” Culliton said. “This is the toughest league in Washington, but I think we will be able to compete.”
Another player Culliton pointed out is freshman Alize Vaimaugon.
“She is going to be a big impact player in the future I think,” Culliton said. “Alize is a great person to have in our program.”
Coach: Donja Walker
2016 record: League: 3-4, Overall: 8-7
Key returner: Talaitupu Lologo (OH), Molly Saeda (S/OPP), Mariah Stewart (OPP/MH)
Key departures: Leapagatele Atanoa (OH/MH)
At a glance: After advancing to the postseason for the first time in a number of years, the Eagles are hoping to make another return trip in 2017 and do even better than their one-and-out appearance. With hard work, they are poised to make that happen this season. The Eagles lost only two seniors two graduation, and coach Donja Walker expects her seniors — outside hitter Talaitupu Lol, setter Molly Saeda, middle blockers Mariah Stewart and Carly Michaels — and sophomore libero Maki Bispham to lead the Eagles’ offense and defense on the court. She also had 45 players turn out for volleyball last week and is excited that the team may have some depth it hasn’t had in past years. Walker said, to succeed this season, however, the Eagles will have to reduce their number of errors and not get complacent.
“We have to be competitive from the start of the season to the end of the season,” Walker said, adding the NPSL is a tough league and all teams are competitive, and the Eagles will have to be prepared and stay focused each time they take the court.
Coach: Diana Evans
2016 record: League: 1-6, Overall: 2-13
Key returners: Gijanni White, Kaleesa Peters
Key departures: Taylor Sterling, Kylie McSheery, Ysabelle Paras
At a glance: Thomas Jefferson had nine returning seniors for 2016, but their experience did not translate to the court. The Raiders finished 2-13, winning only one league game. This year, coach Diana Evans said they have a fresh start.
“We are really young this year,” Evans said. “We lost nine seniors so we are in the building stages, and we will see where we go from there.”
Two returners coach Evans said have high potential are outside hitters Gijanni White and Kaleesa Peters. Evans said those two are very strong players and is very confident in their ability.
Coach: Nessa Lemalu
2016 record: League: 0-7, Overall: 0-13
Key returners: Maggy Tausata(OH), Lindsey Cummis (MB), Malia Apria (OH)
Key departure: Valencia Cardona-Belgarde (L), Talitakumi Maafala (S/OH)
At a glance: The Decatur Gators replicated their 2015 form in 2016, producing zero wins. Coming into 2017, the main core of the team is back.
“We have a lot of returners,” coach Nessa Lemalu said. “This is my second season here, and overall we are looking pretty good and are excited for the season to start.”
Coach: Jennifer Larsen
2016 record: 2-5
At a glance: The Titans swimming and dive team was the second best of the Federal Way school district teams but was in the bottom four of the NPSL. Coach Jennifer Larsen is expecting a lot of this year’s team.
“We have a very good team,” she said. “We have at least eight girls who should qualify for league, if not districts. A lot of the girls were going to the pool together during off season and were practicing together. They’re a good group of girls who are very dedicated to the team.”
Coach: Carla Boone
2016 record: 1-6
At a glance: The Federal Way Eagles are excited heading into 2017, with coach Carla Boone expecting to have more swimmers qualify for districts than in 2016.
“I am very optimistic, and I think we will do much better than last year for sure,” Boone said. “It’s a great group of girls.”
Two new swimmers Boone is excited for are sophomore Breanna Ross and freshman Sarah Jacobson. She said both have shown to be very strong swimmers in only a few days. Underclassmen will lead this team as returning sophomores Bridget Woods and Meghan Kon are also swimmers for whom Boone has high expectations.
Coach: Wendy Neely
2016 record: 3-4
Coach: Sam Hunt
2016 record: 0-7
At a glance: The Gator swim team is coming off a season of no wins, but they do have youth.
“We are a very young team,” coach Sam Hunt said. “We currently have 26 girls on the roster — 13 are freshmen, five are sophomores and eight are juniors. We have no seniors.”
With 13 freshmen and zero seniors, Decatur’s team looks promising for the future.
Coach: Brett Lucas
2016 record: 8-6
At a glance: Todd Beamer performed very well in the 2016 season, thanks to returners such as Jake Kim and Andy Lee, as well as first-time senior players like Corey Jex and Austin Stafford. Now that this group has graduated, the Titans will have to replace their stars in order to stay competitive in the league.
“We have good numbers but are a very young team,” coach Brett Lucas said. “The surprise is the amount of people we have. We will probably be at 18 people. We want to be competing for the league and try to be competitive.”
One strong returner the Titans have is Tae San Nguyen, who placed fifth in doubles last year. This will be coach Lucas’ first time as head coach for boys tennis, although he was assistant coach for girls tennis last year.
“I’m excited to be the head coach for the boys team,” Lucas said. “For my first year, it should be a good experience for me.”
Coach: Josh Drewry
2016 record: 0-14
At a glance: Last season was one to forget. Federal Way could not compete with the other schools in 2016 with only three individual matches won all season. The 2017 season is looking to be more of the same.
Coach Josh Drewry said it is highly possible the team may need to forfeit the first few matches because of many players not reaching 10 practices before the first meet.
“It’s going to be a small squad, and in the event anyone is missing, it’s going to be hard to make up,” Drewry said. “We may need to forfeit the first few matches as many of my players have not been able to make summer practice due to summer jobs, lack of transportation and other reasons.”
One player for whom Drewry has high expectations is sophomore Jin Ha, who he said has been lifting and training very hard in the off season and has shown great improvement from his freshman year.
Coach: Andrew Buchan
2016 record: 10-4
At a glance: The Raiders came back with a vengeance in 2016. After an upsetting 2015 season, Thomas Jefferson came back to become the best team in the school district. Finishing third behind Enumclaw and Auburn Riverside in the league, the Raiders’ experience on the court showed as they defeated Decatur and Federal Way with ease and tied Todd Beamer, overall. Thomas Jefferson is now returning with the majority of their players from last season, including Martin Lim, who has been a district qualifier the past two years, and doubles team Matthew Arnold and Elyas Poore.
Thomas Jefferson has dominated the league in the past, winning 63 consecutive games between 2008 and 2015. In 2015, they lost 12 of their best players, though, resulting in the rebuilding year that saw them go 4-4.
Coach Andrew Buchan also has four nephews in Federal Way schools who will be playing tennis: Pona Rosa and Kana Rosa are freshmen twins on his team, and Elden Buchan and Jacob Buchan are sophomore twins at Decatur, both of whom were all-league selections as freshmen.
“I’ve coached them their whole lives,” Andrew Buchan said. “The Rosas primary coach is their mom, who coaches at Highline College. As far as Elden and Jacob, I am their main coach. I want our league to get better, and I want my nephews to get better. Ideally, my hope is that my nephews on Decatur play well against us, but my team, overall, just plays a little better.”
With nine returning letter winners, plus the freshmen twins coming into Thomas Jefferson’s already deep team, they have the potential to start another winning streak this season.
Coach: John Cassens
2016 record: 5-9
At a glance: The Gators are excited heading into 2017, with good reason. After losing only one senior from last year, the majority of the 2017 team will be made up of upper classmen itching to finish their Gator tennis career positively.
“Our team is young but they’re really good,” coach John Cassens said. “We also only have one senior this year. We have a really good player [Tae Hyung] and and two or three others who are really competitive as well.”