Volleyball Team Gets Deep Into State

Jaxon Owens, Website Editor

The PHS volleyball team made a deep run into the playoffs this year, after going just 6-6 in league play.

PHS volleyball coach Tony Batinovich says that there is no star player because everyone contributed.

“There really was not a best player this year, everyone filled a role on the team. The nucleus of our starters were five sophomores but then we had some seniors who came in and solidified our positions. We had two juniors who played really well. I know it sounds cliché but this was a whole team effort, all 14 girls helped at some time in practice or matches contributed to our success,” Batinovich said.

Batinovich knew they would play some tough teams once the team got to the league and district tournaments.

“Well 6-6 got us into the league tournament and we knew that once we got there we would need to win one of our three watches to get to districts. I thought that we had a good chance to make it to districts. Then once you get to districts it all depends on draws and who gets hot so we knew that we would have to play some tough teams in districts but we played tough teams in non-league game so we were hoping that would prepare us for playing those better teams,’ Batinovich said.

In the league tournament PHS played all teams from the North division of the SPSL.

“The girls came up big in the league tournament. We had to play three teams from the North [league]. They had to play the third, fourth and fifth placed teams and beat them all. Then when we got to districts we ended beating Kentwood who was the number one team out of the North this year which then put us in a play-in state game against a very good Olympia program,” Batinovich said. “That one I guess it was meant to be, because we were down a lot in the fifth set and we came back and one that. It was nice for the girls to see that we can hang with anybody.”

The team has a goal every year but this year they went farther than expectations dictated.

“We may have exceeded expectations, our goal is always to make it to the state tournament, but sometimes that is not in the cards. We were overall a pretty unexperienced team, postseason wise. We had no one in the program who had ever made to any postseason and beyond. Maybe the goal is pretty lofty but the girls, they exceeded it and showed even we there inexperience overall, they are talented enough to keep going,” Batinovich said.

Batinovich says that Emerald Ridge may have had their number this year, but next year could be the year.

“ER matchups [against us] were bad, and they were a little more experienced in a number of positions. That is now a program that has been to the state finals two years in a row and I think that they had the tangible belief in themselves. Even though the last two times we have played them we have gotten ahead in certain sets, we got better, we just weren’t good enough. They are a good program, they do lose a couple of key players so next year might be our year to get over the hump,” Batinovich said.

Even though the team did not bring home hardware, it was PHS’ first trip to state in a few years.

“Volleyball last made it to state in 2012. Just before the seniors arrived, they would have been in ninth grade. That team placed in state, they got sixth that year so it had been a couple years since we had then been there. This year we won our first match then dropped our next two, so in theory we were in the top 12,” Batinovich said.

Batinovich says the league tournament was the momentum changer.

“The biggest momentum changer was the league tournament. When the girls got into the league tournament we played three different kinds of teams. One we were ahead and they came back and we still beat them. Another we beat handily in three straight sets. The last was against a pretty good Tahoma team. We won the first two sets, then dropped the third, but still battled back and beat them in the fourth,” Batinovich said. “I think that gave the girls the confidence after they won three different types of matches and they all came out the same positive result and we just started playing better. Sometimes you can learn more by losing than you can by winning but they were actually playing at a higher learning, and that gave them the confidence to think that they can just keep on doing what they were doing.

Batinovich sees that there are somethings he cannot control, but next year is looking up for the team.

“If we can stay hungry and everyone stays hungry, if we can take off from where we stopped this year than I think we can do some great things next year. We have a lot of experience coming back. But it might be like the Seahawks, last year the made every play but this year they cannot seem to get the right bounce of a ball,” Batinovich said. “There are some things that we cannot control but I think with the personnel coming back the fact that they have been to the postseason and know what it is like I would say that this group could do0 a lot of great things over the next couple years.”

A challenge for the team was playing time for everyone.

“The biggest challenge for us was we kept 14 girls on varsity this year. That is probably a little too much when it comes to equal playing time. So it was the idea of keeping all of them happy, if that is even possible with 13 other teammates,” Batinovich said. “I probably did not do as great job of that, because we did not have a lot of equal playing time, but some people earned their time due to their consistently performing practice and in games. But I do think that everyone did contribute at one time or another whether it be helping in practice or serving six straight points as Senior Bailey Wood did in the Olympia game when we were down five points. It is stuff like that really shows how everyone contributed to the success of the program.”