Katie Pangborn described her new head coach Anna Herold as a “firecracker.”
And the Redmond High volleyball squad is ready to light a fuse on some victories.
“She’s very competitive and I think it creates a competitive nature in a lot of our players,” said Pangborn, a senior 5-foot-10 right-side hitter.
Added Emma Thomas, a senior 5-9 middle hitter: “Coach Anna is having us work a lot on defense, so I think that’s gonna be our strong suit this year. We have a lot of really good passers.” Thomas gave a nod to liberos/defensive specialists Lili Schadt, a sophomore, and Mari Torgerson, a junior.
Redmond had a breakout year in 2016 with a 14-7 record and 3A district appearance with league most valuable player Elise Petit hammering kills left and right. Petit and a host of solid players graduated, but Pangborn said the Mustangs are ready to make an impact this year with some talented returners and new young blood.
“I think from last year, we really were like a go-get-it team, we didn’t shy away from the competition,” Pangborn said. “We had some pretty big teams that we went up against. We just really pushed through and I think if we have the mindset to believe that we can do it — we can do it.”
Redmond snagged a 3-2 victory over Lake Washington in its first league contest of the season on Wednesday. Scores were 20-25, 25-15, 18-25, 25-21, 15-10.
Herold noted that Shelby Bowman, a senior 5-10 outside hitter, should make some noise again this season. Last year, she was a 3A KingCo all-league second-teamer and put in a ton of work in the offseason.
“She’s a fierce competitor and loves to win. She’s contagious to her teammates in that regard,” said Herold, adding that Bowman is a strong passer and key to the offense.
Other top players are Natalia Chambard, a senior 5-4 setter; Maya Holmen, a junior 6-1 middle blocker; Caroline Talbot, a junior 5-7 outside hitter; and Piper Ferch, a freshman 5-9 outside hitter, who shone on the beach volleyball scene across the country over the summer.
Thomas said she’s playing alongside a stellar group of girls.
“I really think this year we have to focus on being positive and finishing out the game, so I have to work on encouraging my teammates, helping everyone reach their full potential,” she said.
Holmen echoed Thomas’ message of positivity and added that the Mustangs will have to bring loads of intensity to the court as well.
She was a newcomer to the varsity realm last year and is ready to jump back into the KingCo fray.
“I learned a lot about attacking and just where to place the ball. I’ll definitely be taking that into this year and continuing hitting spots and wanna be a bigger hitter on the team this year,” Holmen said.
Herold, who took over the head coaching reins from Richard Abiador, was at the junior varsity helm the last two seasons and knows a lot of the girls well. They know Herold’s coaching style and they’re comfortable being around each other.
The new Mustang leader is excited to see what her team can accomplish.
“They’re all ready to work hard. They’re really coming together as a team pretty quickly, which is fun to see,” Herold said.
“They’re so supportive of each other, always making sure everyone’s involved and the seniors are definitely doing a good job leading and making sure everyone’s working hard.”
Tops on the list are defense and serve receiving, and Herold said everyone’s all in. Herold knows a little something about playing defense, since she was a standout libero at Seattle Pacific University. During her four-year career, she was a two-time All-American and remains the SPU career dig record holder with 2,316.
Pangborn is excited to see where Herold takes the team, which aims to win six out of eight games in September.
“Our weekly goal right now is just to focus on every drill and really give it our all for every play, every day, ‘cause that will get us to where we need to be,” Pangborn said.