Three seems to be a lucky number for the Annie Wright volleyball team.
Since the start of the season, it’s only taken the minimum three games (out of a possible five) for the Gators to defeat all 17 of their opponents en route to the Emerald City League championship – and an undefeated record.
For the fifth time in the past six seasons, Annie Wright will be at the Class 1A state tournament. The Gators open with Zillah on Friday morning in the first round in Yakima.
Even with their perfect regular-season mark, they do not refer to themselves as “Team Perfect” – but rather “Team Ohana.”
“Ohana means family (in Hawaiian), and that’s what this team is based on,” Annie Wright coach Rodney Kalalau said.
Senior Lani Kalalau – the coach’s daughter – agrees.
“You see a lot of teams with one star player,” said Lani Kalalau, who has committed to play volleyball next season at Western Oregon University. “We have a lot of star players, and we communicate really well on the court.”
It’s been a long wait for Lani Kalalau. She transferred from Curtis High School after her sophomore year, and had to sit out of all varsity action last season because of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s transfer rule.
She has been the Gators’ leading outside hitter, totaling 186 kills this season.
“Sitting out a year was tough,” she said. “But it’s helped me see the game better.”
It also helps having two 6-foot, left-handed middle hitters – junior captains Tori Smith and Margaux Arnston – who have a combined 41 blocks for the season.
“Two lefties makes a big difference defensively,” Rodney Kalalau said. “We can do a lot of different things on the court, where most 1A schools can only do a couple things.”
At the state 1A tournament last year, Annie Wright lost both of its matches to Montesano and Colville, who went on to win the state title. An extended stay is more the plan this time around.
“We’ve been fighting for this chance all season,” Arnston said. “I’m excited to see how we’ll do.”Leah Traxel: 253-597-8680 email@example.com blogs.thenewstribune.com/preps