Home games at Freeman High have always drawn a good crowd. A loyal crowd with a boisterous student section and an equally well-represented contingent of family, faculty and friends.
No matter the sport. No matter the season.
It’s why Freeman Strong is more than just a rallying cry. It’s a way of life out on Moran Prairie.
“It’s fun to come out and support the kids,” math teacher and parent Peggy Wells said. “They’re great kids and it’s what we do here.”
On Tuesday night, it’s the Scotties volleyball team, and the home crowd kept the noise going while the team made short work of Riverside in a Northeast A League match, 25-10, 25-17, 25-13.
“I’m a junior, and I’ve been coming to games here since I was in middle school,” middle blocker/right side hitter Bradee Parisotto said. “It’s always been like this here. It makes it fun for us to go out and play hard, and it keeps our energy up.”
The Scotties entered the match on a roll after placing an impressive third at the 25th annual Linda Sheridan Volleyball Classic at Lewis and Clark, ahead of much bigger area schools.
“That’s an important tournament for us because we got to play against some bigger schools, and we played well,” coach Eva Windlin-Jansen said. “That’s our one chance to see what we’re made of against bigger, stronger competition.
“I think we figured out that we can play with teams like that. It was a good year for Class 1A teams. There were three of us in the final four. I’m sure we all took a lot of notice of one another.”
Freeman beat the reigning Class 4A state champion, Auburn Riverside and Mount Spokane to reach the semifinals, but lost to eventual tournament champion Tahoma.
Having a home match come on the heels of a strong tournament showing is good for keeping that momentum going, the coach said. There is still a league season to finish, and with that time to get the team healthy and get a few players back in the lineup and back in top form.
“We still have some work to do, and we have some time to work with,” Windlin-Jansen said. “We have a few more league games to get through, and there’s still our big match with Lakeside to look forward to. That’s going to be big for us.”
The Eagles, undefeated in league play, handed Freeman its lone loss in NEA play thus far, a three-game sweep in mid-September. Next week’s rematch will go a long way toward determining both the league title and who gets the No. 1 seed into the playoffs.
Also ahead is a doubleheader with Central Washington A Conference teams Chelan and Cascade (Leavenworth)– teams that finished fourth and second, respectively, in last year’s state tournament – to close out the regular season.
A year after having one of their number wounded in a shooting at the school, Freeman rallied to reach the state tournament, where they knocked arch-rival Lakeside out of the tournament before losing to Naches Valley in the seventh-eighth-place match.
“We’re all really close,” Parisotto explained. “We’ve all been playing together for a long time, and we support one another 100 percent.
“I think this year we’ve just picked up where we left off last year. That’s how it feels, anyway.”
It hasn’t been quite that easy, the coach admitted.
“To be honest, it’s taken a little while to get it together,” she said. “It’s taken a little work.”
Freshman middle hitter Ashley Boswell has come along nicely and has earned a spot in the rotation at a position of team strength alongside 5-foot-10 senior Eva Knight. Sophomore Jordyn Goldsmith is a strong hitter from the right side.
“Our depth is really good, and I think that helps us, especially in practice,” the coach said. “When you can have quality competition in practice every day, that forces you to get better. It gives us a deep bench and an ability to handle injuries when they crop up.”
And the community adds that extra something the program needs, she said.
Volleyball, at its core, is a game of momentum. Keeping it when it’s on your side and getting it back when it ebbs away.
Having a boisterous home crowd makes the task that much easier to accomplish.
“When the crowd gets loud, it picks us up,” Parisotto said. “There’s an energy here that gets us going and lifts us up.”