Alexis Olgard, sr., Mead, MB; Emma Barrington, sr., Mead, S; Allie Riggin, sr., EV, OH; Kiley Kamitomo, jr., Ferris, OH; Shannon Giusti, sr., CV, S; Second team – Chenise Pakootas, sr., Mead, RH; Maddison Dahlstrom, sr., Mead, OH; Kaitlin Kelly, sr., NC, OH.
With four returning state-placing teams and a fifth that could just as easily have done so, this league continues to be the toughest in Washington. A jamboree last weekend at Shadle Park finished, in order: Mead, Mt. Spokane, Lewis and Clark, North Central, Shadle and Ferris – a starting point, but hardly the end all. Mead, however, is favored, a fact coach Judy Kight doesn’t deny. “It’s hard to tell until you’re tested, but I do think we have had a stronger start this season than last year,” she said. Placing seventh at state after five straight titles was hardly a disaster. “We had good players who were pretty young and inexperienced who just needed another year. It really was a good year all in all.” … Pakootas, a standout at U-Hi in volleyball and basketball, has transferred to Mead … Heather Jackson takes over at LC after five years as assistant with four returning starters. She’s banking on “creating a great team that has its own identity, just like every team every year.” … EV coach Jim Dorr said as the setter goes, so goes a team. Mead’s Barrington and CV’s Guisti could bear him out. … Look for CV to be in the 4A state hunt, a taut four-team 3A race (NC has four starters back and standout sophomore Samantha Hill) with Shadle making its late-season run.
Shaniqua Nilles, jr., WV; Jordan Levenseller, sr., Pullman; Joni Nagy, jr., Riverside; Makayla Carr, sr., Colville, Elizabeth McKinney, sr., Riverside; Stephanie Ruygrok, sr., Deer Park; Bailey Wold, sr., WV; Kellie McCann-Smith, sr., Clarkston; Shelby Cheslek., jr., Pullman; Shaley Ham, Cheney.
Who are the players to watch? Everybody from Pullman, said Colville coach Missy Bennett. The Greyhounds, fourth at state last year and WV’s Eagles, fifth, are the teams to beat, but every team stands to be improved. Cheney made strides last year, Colville is always tough and Riverside has two all-league players.
Sierra Poncho, jr., Newport; Blair Riddle, sr., Freeman; Leslie Stillar, sr., Lakeside; Alex Daggy, sr., Lakeside; Jeni Beardslee, sr., Kettle Falls; Sophie Bush, jr., Newport.
Don’t expect the standings to shuffle much from last year. Lakeside is traditionally tough, was a state qualifier last year and a win away from a trophy. Newport has one of the premier players in Pancho.
Class B outlook
2B – Colfax is defending 2B champion, with two starters but eight letter-winners back. Cousins (state basketball MVP) Kayla and Rachel Johnson will carry the load. The Bulldogs are among four Bi-County contenders, including state-placer Davenport and Kenzie Graber, qualifier Northwest Christian and Hanna Descoteaux, and Lind-Ritzville with Kelsey Arlt and Devon Killian. “That will make for tough, competitive matches and in the long run the teams that come out for state will be well-prepared,” Colfax coach Sue Doering said. Tekoa-Oakesdale, led by returnee Desiree Chappell, was third at state and Pomeroy was fifth. Hall of Fame Pomeroy coach Jim Greene has retired. Bruce Crossfield takes over.
1B – LaCrosse-Washtucna is defending champion. Wilbur-Creston, with Allison Reed returning, took third. Fifth-place St. John-Endicott brings back all-leaguers Kelly VanLith and Trisha Luft and eighth-place Cusick has back All-Panorama Lydia Trieschel but graduated five starters. Sprague-Harrington is a veteran team.