Sequim coach Jennie Webber Heilman has plenty of numbers and experience on her side.
She could use a little height, however.
“We’ve got to be able to block,” says Webber Heilman, heading into her 19th year as head coach of the Wolves.
“(And) we need to be able to spread out our offense.”
Hitting and blocking were hardly a problem for the 2010 Sequim squad that went 3-1 at districts and qualified for the 2A state tourney before getting bounced in back-to-back games.
But the Wolves took a blow with the graduation of middle hitters Jessica Lauritzen and Maddy Zbaraschuk.
Still, Sequim has a trio of three-year starting juniors filling out half their lineup. Taking a floor leadership role is setter Taylor Balkan, who led Sequim with 316 assists (22.6 per game) and was Sequim’s top server in 2010 as a sophomore. Rylleigh Zbaraschuk comes into the campaign as perhaps the Wolves’ top defensive player, tallying 108 digs (eight per game) in 2010.
“We’ve got a good corps of experience,” Webber Heilman says.
And then there’s junior Haleigh Harrison, whose blocking, big hits and jump serve figure to be a big part of Sequim’s attack. She led Sequim in kills (125) and blocks (26) and was third on the team in aces and digs.
“(Haleigh) has been working hard,” Webber Heilman says. “She can set the pace of the game.”
Also figuring to play key roles are senior Kyla Martin and juniors Katelynn McDaniels and Marissa Haner.
Martin was the Wolves’ second-most prolific server behind Balkan and No. 2 defender behind Zbaraschuk, and added 58 kills and 24 aces. McDaniels had eight kills and 13 aces while Haner chipped in with 14 kills and 16 digs, both in limited playing time.
Sequim’s hallmarks, is key for this club, Webber Heilman says. In 2010, the Wolves connected on 87.7 percent of their serves (897 of 1,022 attempts).
“It’s a huge thing for our defense is not to have to play defense,” she says.
On the other hand, she notes, Sequim needs to key in on good passing off opponents’ serves.
“We don’t want teams taking advantage of us (with serves),” Webber Heilman says.
After seeing turnout dip a bit in the past few years, Sequim saw 43 players turn out — 20 of them freshmen. Sequim coaches had to make cuts to about a third of the turnout crowd.
Webber Heilman says she has 10 players locked in for the varsity club and another two or three that may swing back and forth with varsity and junior varsity clubs.
Sequim’s JV squad may be big, with up to 17 players, but Webber Heilman notes that all but three Olympic League schools have C-team squads, giving Sequim’s younger players even more experience.
Top league teams probably will be defending league champ North Kitsap, Port Angeles, Olympic and Sequim.
After the Sept. 6 jamboree, Sequim opens with a non-league match Sept. 8 against 4A power Central Kitsap.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.