Westview volleyball getting better with age
When it comes to Westview volleyball, youth is being served — no pun intended.
The Metro League Wildcats are off to one of the best starts in school history, and they're doing such thanks in large part to their junior class.
"Last spring, we had such a young group, and I felt we performed above my expectations," Westview head coach Janelle Brandt said. "So, when we set our goals for this fall last April, we set them pretty high, and the girls are just killing it."
Westview has won 14 of its first 16 matches, with only losses to South Salem and state power Jesuit on its resume. That would be exciting for any coach and team, but with 10 juniors and only a single senior on the roster coupled with the school's limited history of volleyball success, Brandt said that as a group, the Wildcats are all amped about how things are going as the regular season winds towards the playoffs.
"This is the best team Westview has had in my time here," the coach said. "We have pretty high goals for the season, and I think they're attainable."
Brandt said the team is led by their three captains: outside hitter Alize Bakker, libero Kennedy Cheung and middle blocker Halle Garrity. She also said the team's strength is in their defense, something that casual observers of the game tend to take for granted.
"We're very defensively sound," she said. "We win a lot of long rallies and work very hard on the defensive end. It's definitely a strength of ours, but it's also what hurt us against Jesuit. They served us very aggressively, and we struggled with that."
Despite the loss to the league-leading Crusaders, the Wildcats learned a lot. Brandt said they definitely didn't play their best game against Jesuit, but she added that they gained confidence in their ability to compete with some of the state's best going forward.
"They're just very fundamentally sound," Brandt said. "They played very solid and we couldn't get them out of their system, but we know we can compete with them, so the next time we see them, we expect to put up a better fight.
"We're always talking to the girls about confidence and that they need to play like they deserve to be near the top of the league, because they do."
Brandt said that while she has confidence in her entire roster, Baker is the team's most consistent player and can be equally effective in either the front or back row. She added that Garrity is the team's go-to hitter, and Chung — who has been starting since her freshman season — is the glue that holds it all together.
"Kennedy leads us defensively and does all the little things," Brandt said. "She's a very strong server, is my best passer, and is phenomenal to watch on defense. She will not let the ball hit the ground."
With the strong start, along with the team's newfound confidence, Brandt said they're not only aiming at the playoffs, but also looking to get a win or two once they get there.
"Jesuit is always super-strong, but we want to fight for a Metro League title, and we've never had the opportunity to do that," Brandt said. "But our overall goal is to be playing at the state tournament, and I think this group can get there."
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