Tough competition at the nets - (Spokesman Review)
September 11, 2008

Tough competition at the net

GSL home of the best volleyball teams in the state

Justine Simpson's participation at several national development camps this summer should help lead the veteran East Valley Knights to a post-season state 3A tournament berth. The Spokesman-Review (J. BART RAYNIAK The Spokesman-Review )
Steve Christilaw
September 11, 2008
Here's the thing you have to remember about the Greater Spokane League and the sport of volleyball: Being good isn't always good enough.The GSL is to volleyball what Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics were to the NBA. Not only has Mead High School won the past five consecutive state championships, they've beaten Lewis and Clark in the championship match in each of the past two finals. Last year three of the top five teams in the state were from the GSL (Shadle Park placed fifth) and the only reason more league teams weren't in the hunt for hardware was because it is allowed just three state berths.When the Panthers return Alexis Olegard – a 6-foot-5, All-State first team player who, just a junior, already has committed to play collegiate volleyball at the University of Southern California – you can expect them to once again vie for a state title. And when the Tigers return an All-State second-teamer, Oceana Bush, you can figure they'll be in that same hunt once again.


"It's insane how good you have to be to be competitive in this league," Central Valley coach Chad Coupland said. "You simply cannot afford an off night in this league."I like to think that, if we were in any other Class 4A league in the state, that we'd be one of those teams in the hunt to win a state title."Tough as the GSL is, however, Coupland is happy to be part of it all."When I was hired at CV, my job was to make the program competitive and I think we've done that," he said. "I honestly cannot see myself coaching anywhere else."The GSL does shift slightly this season. The Class 3A division of the league expands as both Shadle Park and Rogers drop down to battle Mt. Spokane, North Central and East Valley. Because of that, the road to state is severely restricted. Just four Class 4A teams reach the district tournament, where the challenge will be to unseat perennial powers Mead or Lewis and Clark for a state berth: only two GSL teams can advance to regionals to vie for state berths.That means several teams capable of earning hardware at the state tournament will be left watching from the sidelines."We don't have a 6-4, 6-5 player in the middle the way Mead does," Coupland said. "We have a bunch of mid-sized players who just scrap and dig and occasionally take a ball off their head."The key for us is to have fun. When these girls are out there having fun and making plays, they can be very good. When they aren't having fun, then we're in trouble. Right now, they're enjoying playing together."East Valley KnightsLast year's GSL coach of the year, Jim Dorr, took a relaxed approach to summer volleyball this year."I think that you can sometimes play too much volleyball," he explained. "We took some time off this summer and I think everyone has come into the start of practice fresh and ready to go. They may be a little rusty, but we're taking care of that."


You can do that when you have a veteran squad coming back after a competitive season that saw them finish just one game away from reaching the state Class 3A tournament. The Knights lose just two seniors, one of them a starter, from a year ago.Starting middle blockers Amanda Hiebert and Brie Schau, both 5-10, return for their senior season, as do starting outside hitters Justine Simpson (5-8) and Allie Riggin (5-10), and setter Kelsey Kurtz.Also back is the team's top sub, senior Desi Rainey, who fills in all over the court.Simpson, a second-team All-GSL pick a year ago, spent part of her summer at the Olympic Development camp in Lake Placid, N.Y."The great thing about this group is that they all get along so well," Dorr said. "In fact, they sometimes get so involved in finding things that they can do together as a team that I have to remind them that we do still play volleyball."They care about one another. Amanda Hiebert came to me the other day and said 'You know, Justine is thinking about playing at Western Washington University. Maybe we should play in their tournament so they can see her.' That's the kind of unselfish attitude these girls bring."

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9-11-08 game stats (Spokesman Review)
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» match results

East Valley def. North Central
25-22, 25-23, 25-16.


Kills -- Sillivan (NC) 7. Riggin (EV) 15.
Assists -- Latwesen (NC) 19. Kurtz (EV) 25.
Aces -- Kurtz (EV) 6.

Tough competition at the nets - (Spokesman Review)
September 11, 2008

Tough competition at the net

GSL home of the best volleyball teams in the state

Justine Simpson's participation at several national development camps this summer should help lead the veteran East ...
Hard work pays off - (Spokesman Review)
September 2, 2008
Hard work pays off
EV senior attended USA Volleyball development camp
Justine Simpson, third from left, is pictured with, friends from the Women's Junior Development A1 volleyball camp in Lake...