Loss to Everett seen as learning experience

  • Written by Derek Johnson

In real life, if a seagull fought a falcon, things would not end well for the seagull. But on the volleyball court of Everett High School last Thursday night, that brand of logic didn’t hold up. The Everett Seagulls dispatched of the Woodinville Falcons 3 games to 1. In so doing, they spoiled the head coaching debut of Woodinville’s Andrea Roelen.

But the defeat didn’t faze Roelen. In fact, she viewed it as a valuable learning experience.

volleyballElyssa Olson (left) receives instruction from Woodinville coach Andrea Roelen. (Photo by Derek Johnson) “It was about being on the court and getting the experience of playing with each other,” Roelen said. “We are so green and we’re new… It doesn’t’ bother me getting a loss. I told the girls if we’re [learning from moments where something went wrong] then when we get to league we will be ready to play ball.”

Such comments could be construed as cliche. But Roelen’s coaching method seems to be just what this long-struggling team needs. With every pause in the action, she jumped up from her folding chair, actively shouting instruction, strategy and encouragement. So involved was she -- that her presence seemed to be on the court alongside the girls. 

There’s nothing pretentious or showy about Roelen. She’s in the trenches with her girls.

volleyball2Woodinville's Cate Quilantang serves in the first set. (Photo by Derek Johnson) “We have a totally new team this year, totally new staff, and first game jitters,” Woodinville’s Madison Lundquist said. “We’re getting the hang of all the new plays. But I think that the new energy that Coach Hammer – that’s what we call her– I think that Hammer’s energy has affected our team in such a positive way compared to how we played last year.”

“They need that constant feedback,” Roelen said. “I am energetic and I am right there with them. {I know they’re thinking], `I want feedback, I want details. Tell me, what what I should do?’ It is very new. Right now we’re going to throw a ton of things at them.”
One bright spot for Woodinville came in the fourth and final match. The Seagulls surged to an 18-8 lead, and looked like they would blow the Falcons out of the gym.

But then Woodinville went on a 12-6 run, closing the score to 24-20. Everett secured the final point to win the match. But Lundquist looked at that rally as a good sign.

“We had a mental lapse there and fell behind,” Lundquist said. “But then we all got together and we weren’t going to give up, because that’s not how Hammer has taught us. We dug deep. It all starts with the pass, so once we get a good pass up we can make a play. Our hitters are getting used to connecting with our setters, and all that. Once we got back into the groove we pushed forward and came back.”        

“I want them to persevere,” Roelen said. “I don’t want it to be easy... And that’s good for the girls to feel like they can do this even when the chips are down and things aren’t flowing well.”

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