SVSJ preview: MSHS volleyball, even with exit of key player from last season, looking good this fall

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our fall high school sports preview series continues today with a look at Mount Si High School’s volleyball program.

Mount Si High School’s volleyball program is looking real strong this season, even with one high-profile player departure in the offseason.

Despite the exit of Patience O’Neal, one of the top players from last season as a sophomore, who transferred out of Mount Si due to a job change involving her mom and traffic concerns arising from that, the Wildcats, according to coach Bonnie Foote, look formidable. “I’m excited because we’re deep and we haven’t been deep for a long time. We have a lot of potential on this team,” said Foote, back for her 17th season as Mount Si’s head coach. The core of her coaching staff returns, as assistants Dave Bachman, Shayla Volland and Cristin Stahlberg are also back this season. But the staff additions are also solid as well. Ryann Carter, a former University of Idaho player, joins the Wildcats this season, and also helping out this past week for the first week of practices are two MSHS grads who also played Division I college volleyball – 2012 alum Sarah McDonald (UNC Charlotte) and 2011 grad Zoe Gogan (Washington State, Montana State).

“The first three days Sarah and Zoe kind of ran my court and the girls responded really well. Sarah brought an intensity to our court; they say I’m getting soft in my old age,” Foote said. “Zoe and Sarah represent our program to the finest.” The coach was thrilled to have her former players come back and help this year’s group understand the expectations and culture that comes with the success that players like Gogan and McDonald brought to this program several years ago during the Wildcats’ string of trips to the 3A state tournament. “When kids like that come back, it’s so rewarding for me to just sit back and watch them coach and to hear some of the things that I told them for them to relay it to my team,” Foote said. “These girls have no idea what it was like (back then).”

With both young ladies back in town now having college degrees in their back pockets, and Stahlberg, who handles the head coaching duties for the freshman-laden Wildcat “C” team, expected to miss some time on the bench after she gives birth to a new baby within the next few days, look for Gogan and McDonald to make additional appearances to assist the staff in practices and perhaps matches as well.

As for top players, the senior group led by Courteney Carr, Katie McCreadie, Sophie Click and Cameron Kendall will look to lead the Mount Si club, who missed state last season after finishing strong in Kingco 4A play. With Redmond’s exit from 4A, that makes the league that much more challenging this year. “Everyone in our league is tough,” Foote said. “It’s going to be a dogfight.” The teams to beat this year look to be the same ones from last year – Issaquah, Newport, Skyline, Eastlake and Bothell all are expected to contend for the league championship, with Mount Si likely in that mix as well, especially if they fare well against Eastlake and Bothell in preseason matches coming up in September.

O’Neal’s departure, though, was a tough one for Foote to swallow. But, the coach acknowledges they can’t use that as an excuse. “It impacts us because she’s obviously a great volleyball player and losing her and also losing her dad (Tim) as a coach in the program was a bummer, but we have to bounce back and we’re still a really great team,” Foote said. Tim O’Neal was a volunteer assistant last season for Foote, mostly helping with the junior varsity and “C”-level squads.

The Wildcats season opens September 8 with a road match at Marysville-Pilchuck, followed by their first Saturday tournament of the fall on September 10 in Everett at Cascade High School. They open the home season with a meeting against Shorewood on September 13, followed by another contest against Kentwood and their longtime coach Bill Caillier, a close coaching friend of Foote’s, on September 15 down in Covington. Also a feature of this year’s non-league schedule is a meeting with Yakima’s Eisenhower, on October 1. The Kingco schedule begins September 28 at Bothell, with the home league schedule happening in three straight matches from October 5-12. All home matches begin at 7:00 p.m.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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