SVSJ preview: Cedarcrest HS volleyball has new coach, a familiar face to the program, who looks to improve this fall

EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we continue our series of Valley high school fall sports previews taking a look at Cedarcrest High School volleyball as it begins a new era with a new coach, just like their counterparts on the Red Wolves football team.

Like with football as we discussed yesterday, the Cedarcrest High School volleyball program also begins a new era this fall with a new coach. Program alum Kristine Nielsen takes over the program after former coach Kelsey Fish’s departure following last season.

The team last season won just one conference game coming into a much tougher Wesco landscape after having struggled in their final season in the Cascade Conference two seasons ago. So the path is pretty much set – to improve as much as they can with the tougher league enviroment, and you know what, they have experience, they have depth, and they have a coach who is very committed to making things happen.

“I think fans will be pleasantly surprised with how much the team has improved over this off season under my direction of new drills and workouts,” Nielsen told us by email. “I’ve got a great group of girls who are eager to learn and have that competitive edge that’s needed to compete with these Wesco teams.”

That group includes nine seniors. But it’s two underclass players – sophomore Bella Ruyle and freshman Ashlyn Deveraux – who are earning the most praise it seems from Nielsen. “These two underclassmen in particular show great potential to be a huge asset to our teams’ success this season.”

The coach is looking to get the team past the first round of the district tournament. They made districts last year on the strength of that one league win but fell in the first round, as has been the custom in recent seasons. Nielsen wants to change that. “In years past, the volleyball program has fallen short in the first round of post season. This year with the talent we have, we are looking to make it past the first round of districts,” she told us. “My coaching philosophy is to keep the sport fun and keep the players engaged. I run fast paced practices that creates a lot of chaos and a lot of failure. Failing now equals success later.”

Nielsen also knows who the team’s biggest challenge will be in league play this year. “Back when I was a player here at Cedarcrest, Archbishop Murphy was also our biggest rival and it seems that still stands true. We know going into this season that a lot of teams have graduated some elite seniors and will be starting over with younger teams. I think having the senior depth that we have will give our team an edge this year,” Nielsen said. Of the 2A teams in league, Murphy did finish the best of the three but were in the lower half of the league standings.

As was the case last year, the computer rankings that are used for playoff seeding will this year award bonus points for wins against Wesco 3A squads. So some of the teams we would look for to be key matchups for this group include the ones against Shorecrest, Meadowdale, and Edmonds-Woodway, all teams that finished around .500 in Wesco play last season. With the
experience and new attitude for the Red Wolves this season, if Cedarcrest can perhaps notch a win or two against a mid-pack 3A squad, that will be a big help to their overall postseason push.

The Red Wolves open the season next Thursday night at home against Arlington. The team has seven home games this season, including the one with Edmonds-Woodway October 14. The contest with Murphy will be the senior night game this season, and that happens on Halloween night, October 31. All home games are at CHS’ gym, 29000 NE 150th St. in Duvall and 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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