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By David Pan 

Wildcats hope to build on last season’s state success | Volleyball


Last updated 9/16/2016 at Noon

The Archbishop Murphy volleyball team learned some valuable lessons last season.

The Wildcats, the Cascade Conference and District 1 champions, came into the 2A state tournament as one of the favorites. Archbishop Murphy, however, was upset in the quarterfinals and eventually finished sixth in the tourney.

“We learned a lot about ourselves,” Wildcats coach Brandon Jones said. “I think the pressure got to us, going in highly ranked. … We have all the physical tools. We need to learn the mental side.”

Jones views communication as the key to weathering challenges.

“When you get in trouble, you talk your way out of it,” he said. “Whether in practice or during a match, we talk our way out of it. Communication is a big deal this year.”

It’s been good so far, as Archbishop Murphy has started the season 2-0 in the league and 4-0 overall.

“I feel like we’ve come out really strong and we have a lot of energy,” said senior co-captain Jamie Cymbaluk. “We are really determined to do good for the rest of the season.”

Having a target on their backs last season was new to the Wildcats, Cymbaluk added.

“We learned how to deal with the pressure and how to really pull together when things were against us,” she said. “We just stay steady and focus on each game.”

The Wildcats, who return most of last year’s roster, have only nine players on varsity. Leading the way are senior co-captains Cymbaluk, Gabby Flake, Sam Hayward and Olivia Lawson.

Hayward was the league co-MVP and Cymbaluk earned first-team, all-league honors. Both will continue their volleyball careers in college.

“They definitely are two of our biggest offensive threats,” Jones said.

Sophomore Claire Doud is another strong offensive player in the middle.

Junior Natalie Hayward returns as setter but possesses other skills as well.

“She is probably one of the most well-rounded kids,” Jones said. “She can do anything no matter what the position – hitting, setting, phenomenal passer, libero. … She’s the emotional leader of our team.”

Jones doesn’t see a weakness in the lineup.

“We’re strong,” he said. “I don’t’ really have a gap this year. I feel we match up with anybody player for player.”


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