"Volleyball team has new coach, new attitude"

"When South Whidbey volleyball fans turn out for the first home game of the season on Sept. 11, everything about the Falcons will have a new look.Last year, the team graduated the last batch of players who were around to witness the team's run to eighth at state in 1996 -- Sierra Tornga, Kenady Reuland, and Daylene Waterman. The Falcons also graduated their head coach of 24 years, Mike Parnell, who retired from coaching at the end of last year's 8-6 season and one-game playoff run.This year, the Falcons hit the court with a group of sophomores who went 10-0 as a freshman team in 1999 and a varsity core made up of players who have put in some serious time and dedication on both the junior varsity and varsity teams during the past two seasons. Those same junior varsity players, who will make up a large portion of the varsity lineup, are also bringing their coach up with them, Tim Durbin. After four years as a JV and assistant coach, Durbin has the top job. Though it is tough to step into the job Parnell held for nearly a quarter century, Durbin has high hopes for the volleyball team considering the Falcons' numerous appearances at the state tournament.I just want to try to continue the tradition, Durbin said. Some of the star players of past years, including Tornga, Reuland, and Waterman, may be gone. But this season's Falcons have youth, talent, and even a little playoff experience on their side.I'm pretty happy with the returning team I have, Durbin said.The key to the team's success will be senior setter Erin Hussey, Durbin said. A holdover from two rebuilding years for the team, the two-year varsity starter knows how to run an offense and defense in high pressure games. She's been in some battles already, Durbin said.Hussey has also organized summer workouts, something Durbin said should bolster the team's early-season fitness. The workouts also lured about a dozen freshmen to the high school gym -- freshmen who have quite an act to follow after last year's frosh team went undefeated.Hussey will have a big supporting cast this season. Smacking the ball over the net will be lanky senior hitter Samantha Watson. Juniors Melissa Poolman and Jenny Saephan will join Watson on the line, adding their considerable jumping and jamming talent to the offense. Senior Kaitlin King is also expected to join the varsity lineup, backing Hussey at the setter's position.On the defensive side, senior defender Sally Schimph will make sure the ball does not stick around the Falcon zone to stay.Durbin said he has two other players in mind for the varsity squad. After playing good club and junior varsity seasons over the past year, juniors Molly Fox and Paige Jolley will be go-to players for the team, according to their coach.With a lineup like he has, Durbin said the sky is the limit.There's no reason we shouldn't make state this year, Durbin said. We've got a shot.Even though Durbin moves up to the varsity coaching job, the JV Falcons will not lack for a familiar face. Jody Clemens, a volunteer coach for the team for the past two years, gets the nod as this year's JV and varsity assistant coaching job.The Falcons start their season on Sept. 5 with a varsity jamboree in Mariner. "

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