Puyallup: Sports

Behind Tang, Cougar volleyball starts season on hot streak

Senior Dani Tang, center, has become the Cascade Christian High volleyball team’s leader both spiritually and on the court.
Senior Dani Tang, center, has become the Cascade Christian High volleyball team’s leader both spiritually and on the court. Staff writer

Cascade Christian High and its volleyball program is in a new year with a new attitude toward the season: This is the Cougars’ year.

It’s been about growth for Cascade Christian as the Cougars had to learn and develop to steer through the Class 1A Nisqually League. But that was last year’s theme.

“We were younger last year, and they had to learn how to play at this level,” coach Amy Wood said. “The girls are still young, with the team mostly juniors and four seniors … it’s that they gained that experience last year. Now is the time to show that growth as a team.”

The development stage is over, and now is the time for the Cougars to strike at their Nisqually League opponents.

“We feel confident that we can fight for a league title,” Dani Tang said.

The early confidence is evident inside Cascade Christian’s gym as the Cougars have surged to the top of the league with a 2-0 league start and a 5-1 overall record. All of the Cougars’ wins last week were against strong competition. Cascade Christian defeated Bellevue Christian (3-0, Sept. 28) and Seattle Christian (3-1 on Sept. 30) before closing out against Klahowya (3-2, Oct. 3).

“The win against Bellevue (Christian) stands out in particular because they won 3-0,” Wood said of the Cougars set sweep of last year’s league champions. “They really played together as a team.”

That momentum carried into the rest of the week as Cascade Christian stretched its winning streak to five.

“I’m not surprised to see where we are,” Jane Cooksley said of the Cougars’ spot in the standings. “We have some talent on this team, and we’ve been working hard.”

Inspirational hitter

So much can be said of Cascade Christian outside hitter Dani Tang. With a commitment to Whitworth University, this senior has shown everything needed from a hitter who controls the net.

Last week was total domination by the senior as Tang finished with 51 kills, good for an average 17 kills per match — total dominance of the net.

“It’s my senior year and I want to win a league title and reach the playoffs,” Tang said. “I’m just motivated to help my team get there.”

It’s a deeper motivation than just to reach the postseason with a fresh league title in hand. It’s the desire of a leader trying to uplift her team toward that next stage in their careers.

It’s also about becoming an inspiration.

“On our team she plays a big role,” Wood said. “I think it’s because she’s a senior … it’s a Christian school and a Christian team. Here, she is very much a spiritual leader.”

The qualities to keep a team composed and understand what’s at stake is everything Tang represents. It’s in her personality to be there for her teammates in all capacities.

“I want to be there for them, to share winning a league title,” Tang said. “I want (the younger girls) to get that this year and know what it’s like.”

And with Tang playing like she has been so far, Cascade Christian will have plenty of reason to begin thinking about a league title.

As Tang put it, “Why not reach for the big prize?”