Lions eager for sixth trip to state 3A tournament | Volleyball

Kelsey Fausko and Caitlin Carr in action at the Washington State 3A tourney last season. - File Photo
Kelsey Fausko and Caitlin Carr in action at the Washington State 3A tourney last season.
— image credit: File Photo

Coming off an undefeated run through league play and a return to state, Auburn Mountainview is equipped and determined to perform an encore this volleyball season.

“It’s looking good for this year,” said seventh-year coach Momi Bowles, whose Lions finished 10-0 in the South Puget Sound League 3A, capped by a fifth straight appearance at the state tournament last season.

Auburn Mountainview looks to capitalize on the experience gained from its 18-6 campaign a year ago with a strong core of returning starters, including a pair of promising newcomers, to compete for the state title.

The Lions return last year’s SPSL 3A MVP Kelsey Fausko, a 6-foot-1 senior middle blocker. Senior co-captain Courtney Schroeder, an SPSL 3A honorable mention performer, returns, as does junior setter Sam Odren, an SPSL 3A first-teamer, and senior 6-foot outside hitter Caitlin Carr, a second-team all-star.

“You can definitely sense in Courtney, Kelsey and Caitlin that ‘this is our senior year and this is our opportunity. Let’s not let it slip by,’” Bowles said.

Bowles said the team will look to its big hitters to create offense and compensate for the loss of defensive specialist Alex Odren, who graduated last year.

“We’re just looking to really get a great swing (with the ball),” Bowles said. “The more we swing and (become) offensive, hopefully the more we can take other teams out of their system. Hopefully, with time that will enable us to get better at our defensive game. Obviously, we’re going to have a different approach to the game this year.”

Bowles said the team will substitute less, with her offensive players staying in the game longer, rather than sitting out while her defensive specialists take the court.

“It will be a new experience for us, but it also keeps the girls in the game,” she said. “It keeps them in the moment. Sometimes when you sub that much it can hurt you.”

In addition to the team’s returning starters, the Lions will turn to a pair of sophomore hitters – 6-1 Molly Cichosz and 6-0 Maya Williamson – to contribute.

“(Molly’s) gotten better playing club ball in the offseason, and she’s grown an inch,” Bowles said. “She’ll be playing outside and getting some swings on the ball. (Maya) is very athletic in the middle and will be mainly focusing on blocking to start, then getting more offensive.”

With a preseason No. 8 ranking in the Seattle Times 3A state poll, Auburn Mountainview won’t be sneaking up on anybody this year. But that’s just fine with Bowles and her team.

“We don’t focus too much on that,” she said. “Our program focuses on getting better, and the volleyball takes care of itself.

“If you can establish friendship first, then when the chips are down, you know you have your best chance. These girls really respect each other and support each other, so we’re feeling that not only will we play good volleyball this year, we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

The Lions will host the Adidas Invitational on Saturday.

They kick off league play Sept. 22 with a 7 p.m. home match against Peninsula.


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