Tuesday, July 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Annie Wright stays undefeated

With a league championship in hand, and having been untested to that point, Annie Wright is showing even more experience and potential than their state-tournament volleyball squad last year. The Gators cruised to another three-set win – they have not lost a set this season – in a 25-17, 25-12, 25-17 victory over second place Forest Ridge on Oct. 22 to move to 13-0 on the year. “We’re like a family,” said senior Lani Kalalau, who finished with 13 kills, 10 digs and four aces. “We all mesh together, which is really nice. We all communicate pretty well on the court, which helps us with offense and defense.”

The Gators used a 14-8 run to close out the first set, as junior Margaux Arnston dominated up front and Tori Smith contributed three early aces. The Gators closed out the second set with much of the same, launching a 14-3 run as Kalalau and Maria Vipond had two aces apiece and Lexi LeClech added some imposing front-court play. “The whole team plays club (volleyball),” said head coach Rodney Kalalau. “That helps me and makes my job a lot easier…for us it’s just the experience level that helps. We don’t get too rattled. We just stay under control and you see the result.”

Vipond finished with 10 assists, six aces and six digs, Smith had five kills, five aces and 15 digs for the Gators. Arnston had seven kills while Kaley Turner chipped in with a team-high 19 assists. The Gators were set to finish up the regular season at home against The Northwest School on Oct. 26, then set their sights on the postseason. Despite advancing to the 1A state tournament last year, the Gators were eliminated after two matches – including a first-round loss to eventual state champ Colville – so the ultimate goal is to advance even farther this season. Despite a roster of only nine players, the talent and experience level have them believing it is more than possible. “It’s really exciting for us, because this is our year to win state or come as close as we can to it,” said senior libero Alexis Ross, noting the closeness of the squad. “This is the team to do it, even though we’re so small.”

By Jeremy Helling