Same expectations for retooled Wildcats | Volleyball

By David Pan | Sep 15, 2017

The Archbishop Murphy volleyball team is coming off one of its most successful seasons in school history.

The Wildcats won the Cascade Conference and Northwest District championships and took home a third place trophy at the 2A state tournament.

But only four players – seniors Nat Hayward and Payten Bradley and juniors Claire Doud and Emma Feeney – return from last season and coach Brandon Jones estimates that about 90 percent of the Wildcats’ offense graduated.

Even with all of the changes, Jones doesn’t consider 2017 to be a rebuilding year.

“We’re optimistic,” he said. “We fully expect to go win state. Our expectations haven’t changed.”

The Wildcats are young this season but Jones said they have talent.

So far the four returners and the new varsity players have come together well. The Wildcats are 1-0 in the league and 4-0 overall.

“We’re still learning about ourselves,” Jones said. “But we’ve got a lot of heart.”

Archbishop Murphy has prevailed in a couple of tough five-game matches with the Wildcats coming out strong in both of the fifth games.

“For us, it’s about playing relaxed,” Jones said. “The fifth set can be very nerve-wracking. We seem to relax. We play better when we’re relaxed.”

Hayward, the league’s MVP as a setter in 2016, has been moved to outside hitter, though she also is doing some setting along with sophomore Sydney Pattison. The sophomore is gaining confidence every day with the help of Hayward.

“Our kids are very, very close. Natalie helps her every single day,” Jones said.

Doud also plays outside hitter to give Archbishop Murphy what should be a potent offensive attack. The Wildcats’ middle also is strong with Feeney.

Junior libero Bradley was one of the Wildcats’ most versatile players last season.

“She did everything – serving, passing defense,” Jones said. “She’s a leader on the court.”

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