When discussing volleyball, the word “firepower” often blasts its way into the sport’s lexicon. Redmond High head coach Anna Airhart is a fan of the word and enjoys watching her players let loose on the ball.
Tops on the hitting front for the Mustangs are senior Maya Holmen and sophomore Piper Ferch. Airhart said that when the duo gets cranking, the girls open up the net for the rest of the team to excel.
On the 6-foot-1 Holmen — who has committed to play at Seattle Pacific University next season — the coach said: “She can hit the ball hard. If you get a one-on-one with her, she’s putting the ball down. That brings that excitement to our team.”
Airhart added that Ferch has grown an inch or two since her solid freshman year and is leaping even higher to connect with the ball. She’s gained strength to hit the ball harder and returns to the squad with more consistency and maturity, the coach said. Ferch — who stands 5-7 — has already verbally committed to play beach volleyball at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Redmond moves back to 4A KingCo this season and will tip off league play versus Mount Si at 7 p.m. this Wednesday in the Mustang gym. The squad is coming off a 9-5 record in 3A KingCo last year (11-13 overall) and an appearance in the district tournament.
“If we work really hard, we can pull through some wins this season and surprise a lot of people,” said senior captain Caroline Talbot, a 5-8 outside hitter. “Communication’s a huge part of volleyball and I think that contributes to successes. Every game, you have to talk through every single play.”
Added captain Holmen, a middle blocker who enters her third year on varsity: “The team vibe is super important, to be able to come together on the court and being friends off the court, being supportive of each other, encouraging and also holding each other accountable.”
Add in focus, execution and starting off an offensive surge with a stellar pass and you’re good to go on the court, Talbot noted. Off the court, there’s heaps of team bonding with dinners, smoothies and more.
“It’s all about the team. The team environment changes everything. If you’re not close to the team, the way you play will totally affect that. And the way Redmond volleyball is, we’re a tight family,” Talbot said.
On the defensive-specialist end, Redmond has three liberos in seniors Alexa Brewer and Mari Torgerson and junior Liliana Schadt ready to roll, and sophomore setter Jessica Finch recently transferred from Eastside Catholic to become part of the squad.
Airhart and the Mustangs were excited when Finch showed up at tryouts.
“There’s definitely some time for her to get used to the new school and the new players. We’re starting to build that chemistry with her,” the coach said.
Redmond possesses a strong squad, according to Airhart, and the Mustangs should be able to make an impact in 4A if they stay healthy and peak at the right time to swing into districts.
At press time, Holmen was nursing an injured shoulder and was slated to be in action next week, and junior setter/opposite Rylie Zippro was healing from an injury as well. Airhart said they were resting recently so the squad could be back at full force in league matches.
Holmen is thrilled to commit to SPU and continue her volleyball career.
“It’s a dream come true. I’ve worked really hard over these last four years. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I’m just so happy I get to do that. It’s an honor,” she said.