Young CV volleyball team looks to net experience
By Mike Vlahovich
Youth will be served. Or in the case of Central Valley High School's volleyball team, it is youth doing the serving.
The Bears' roster only has two senior players, and the coach, Amanda Bailey, also is in her first year. While experiencing some growing pains in the vaunted Greater Spokane League, the team also has shown promise - and a few surprises, including an early-season upset over Mead, a perennial GSL powerhouse.
Sitting in fourth with one game remaining, the Bears could go into the Class 4A post-season as a second seed.
"I keep telling the girls I want to win at the end of the season so it's OK to struggle early," Bailey said. "They are hustling and trying hard. We have made some mistakes that are indicative of our youth."
The team began the league play with three wins before losing to rival and then-unbeaten University in the annual Flying Cow spirit match last month. CV went 5-2 at the Linda Sheridan Classic, finishing 18th out of 64 teams.
The Bears were part of a four-way, first-place tie until Mead returned the favor, winning in four games during their GSL showdown two weeks ago.
"I've been a little naïve," Bailey said. "I didn't know the history or that Mead was supposed to be creaming everybody. When people were shocked we beat Mead I didn't think anything of it."
This has been a good year for a young team to gain experience; half the GSL schools have new coaches.
Bailey arrived with an open mind, having moved here last summer from Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. Her husband took a civil service position at Fairchild AFB.
Bailey was hired at CV without an available teaching position, and then later she took an opening at North Pines Middle School.
"I think they must have thought I was the right personality for what they were looking for," she said. Her coaching philosophy derives from a negative high school experience.
"I didn't want to be that kind of coach," Bailey said. "I want to be good, want to win and have the kids succeed. But I also want to go about it in the right way. I think the girls are going to take my demeanor on the court. I'd rather them being relaxed and comfortable and have a good time with them."
Central Valley still struggles to find its identity, Bailey said. And there hasn't been that "go-to" player to carry the Bears at crunch time.
Still, CV's lone seniors have been key contributors. Natalie Ford is the libero, setting the tone from the back row. Alaina Gentili, though limited with a balky knee, has been a force in the middle.
Juniors Kazlyn Roullier and Kara Nitteberg, Bailey said, provide power up front, and four talented sophomores are the future.
"I would like her to be a big strong power hitter," Bailey said of Roullier. "She can really put the ball away and wants to play in college. Kazlyn will develop into a great player."
Roullier has led the team in kills several times, including 17 in the win over Mead.
Nitteberg does everything well, Bailey said.
"I've been pushing certain shots. She's really taken to that and made it part of her arsenal," Bailey said.
Another junior who impressed at U-Hi is RaShasa Montgomery, a leaper with a powerful swing.
Meghan and Jade Rockwood are sophomore setters. Meghan Rockwood leads the team in assists.
"She's been working really hard making good decisions to keep her hitters happy," Bailey said.
Sophomore Keann White is a diamond in the rough in the middle, said her coach.
"She has a goofy arm swing, but jumps out of the gym and can put the ball inside the 10-foot line or take somebody's head off," Bailey said.