So much authority inherently comes from being the older of twins. It is the ultimate bragging birthright.
But for years, Brylie and Colby Barnette never knew which of them came first. For fear the fraternal twins were not mature enough to handle the truth, their parents kept it secret.
That did not dissuade them from participating in some youthful sleuthing for answers. Among the theories they pursued: Older siblings are shorter and younger siblings are more outgoing.
“We would try to problem solve to find out who ‘Baby A’ was and who ‘Baby B’ was,” Brylie said.
Now 17, the Rogers High School seniors have known for a year: Colby was older by four minutes.
“And sometimes I do hold it against her,” Colby admitted with a laugh.
Brylie maintains that her sister’s head start gave her another advantage.
“I think that’s why she’s three inches taller,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
These days, not much else besides those four minutes and three inches separate the Barnettes, who participate in volleyball, basketball and track together for the Rams.
Both are standouts in volleyball – Colby, at 5-10, was an all-South Puget Sound League South Division first-team middle hitter last season while Brylie, at 5-7, was an honorable-mention selection at outside hitter.
John Reopelle, who takes over at Rogers after 25 years coaching volleyball at Bethel High School, said the Barnettes are strong, intelligent players with different skill sets.
“Colby is a better blocker, but Brylie is a better passer, so there is a little give and take with both of them,” Reopelle said. “They both hit very well.”
Brylie said that while her sister tallies the kills, she prefers to focus on getting digs.
“They exhilarate me,” she said. “You’re taking someone’s point away.”
Reopelle said that despite Brylie being shorter than most of her counterparts, “you don’t notice it, because she plays a lot (taller) than she is.”
Brylie started playing with the South Hill Volleyball Club in seventh grade and talked Colby into joining a year later. Their father, Bob, is an assistant coach on their club team, and also teaches math at Rogers.
“Sometimes I regret it because she’s so good now,” Brylie said jokingly.
Colby said there is a natural rivalry between the twins, but it’s friendly.
“We definitely push each other to be better at what we do since we play different positions,” Colby said.
Brylie added that she has played everywhere except Colby’s territory in the middle.
“It’s a competition at times when we’re battling back and forth since we’re both hitters,” she said. “But we also rely on each other.”
Rogers finished third in the SPSL South last season behind Emerald Ridge and Curtis.
The team this year is anchored by seven seniors, several of whom were there for the Rams’ brief state appearance in 2011. As is his custom, Reopelle did not select captains, instead relying on the veterans to be leaders.
“It’s definitely a new environment with a new coach, but we have a good chemistry,” Colby said. “All of us hope to go to state.”
The Barnettes also hope that their playing days won’t end with this season.
While neither has decided on a career path – Colby likes math; Brylie prefers English and history – both are adamant that they want to play volleyball in college.
Their height disparity may mean that they will separate for the first time. Colby is a more prototypical NCAA Division I player, while Brylie expects to play at a lower division school.
No matter where their college choices take them, they will enjoy their final season with the Rams.
“To be able to do it together,” Brylie said, “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Nine players return from the Bellarmine Prep squad that captured last season’s Class 4A state championship. The Lions have plenty of size with Claire Martin and Emilie Newberry in the middle, and hitting firepower with Reghan Pukis and oh yeah, Courtney Schwan, The News Tribune’s two-time All-Area player of the year.
League favorites: SPSL South – Curtis/Emerald Ridge. SPSL North – Auburn Riverside. Narrows 4A – Bellarmine Prep. SPSL 3A – Auburn Mountainview. Narrows 3A - Timberline. SPSL 2A - Washington. 2A Evergreen Conference – Tumwater. Nisqually 1A – Life Christian Academy.
Player to Watch
The amazing thing about the 6-foot-2 Schwan, who has already given an oral commitment to play for the University of Washington, is her overall court awareness. More of a glider than a fast-twitch athlete, she is rarely out of position to get off a clean hit. Schwan is a two-time member of the U.S. girls national volleyball team.
Best of Rest
SPSL South: MB Colby Barnette, 5-11, Rogers, sr.; OH Jenna Mullen, 6-1, Emerald Ridge, jr.; OH Jessica Woodruff, 5-8, Curtis, sr.
SPSL North: S Carson Heilborn, 5-11, Auburn Riverside, jr.; MB Lauren Hackett, 6-2, Kentwood, jr.; S Lexi White, 5-7, Auburn Riverside, sr.
Narrows 4A: MB Liz Fredrickson, 6-3, Gig Harbor, sr.; OH Reghan Pukis, 5-11, Bellarmine Prep, jr.
SPSL 3A: OH Molly Cichosz, 6-1, Auburn Mountainview, sr.; MB Maya Williamson, 6-0, Auburn Mountainview, sr.
Narrows 3A: S Hunter Manke, 5-6, Timberline, sr; MB Riley Podowicz, 5-11, Timberline, sr.
SPSL 2A: OH Eva Linden, 5-11, Fife, jr.; OH Tasi Paredo, 5-5, Washington, sr.
2A Evergreen: L Jensyn McCoy, 5-6, Black Hills, sr.
Nisqually 1A: OH Johnnise Moore, 6-0, Life Christian Academy, email@example.com