High School Sports

Zimmerman leading on a new volleyball court: Auburn Riverside

Ciera Zimmerman, who played last season at Christian Faith, is now setting and setting the tone for Auburn Riverside.
Ciera Zimmerman, who played last season at Christian Faith, is now setting and setting the tone for Auburn Riverside. lwong@thenewstribune.com

Most people wouldn’t appreciate being called a bad cop. Ciera Zimmerman considers it a compliment.

After two years of dominating the volleyball court at Christian Faith School, Zimmerman is dazzling at the 4A level as Auburn Riverside High School’s new setter.

“The level is so much higher with your own team and the people you play against,” the 6-foot junior said of her new home in the North Puget Sound League. “The game is played a lot more above the net than in 1B.”

The biggest change, though, is the team dynamic. At Christian Faith, a Class 1B school that placed third at state last year, she was “the dominant personality.” Auburn Riverside already has a lot of leaders.

Not that that has stopped Zimmerman from being a self-proclaimed bad cop with her new team, which has a perfect 7-0 record in league play (13-1 overall).

“If someone isn’t working hard, you call them out,” she said. “But it’s OK, because we’re all pushing each other to be better.”

Zimmerman admitted her role has a downside — “everyone thinks you’re mean” — but said she enjoys essentially being the team’s quarterback.

Senior setter Lauren Smith said her longtime friend’s disposition is “a good thing.”

“We need that intensity,” she said. “We need someone to crack down on us, and she does a great of being a leader on the court.”

Ravens coach Chris Leverenz, whose program won the 2014 Class 3A state championship and placed third last year, said the team was already talented — “but having Ciera just makes us better.”

Leverenz, who has known Zimmerman’s family for years and coached her older sister, said she had no qualms about how her skills would translate to the 4A level.

“She brings a very high level of intensity,” she said. “She is very competitive and she is even OK with people having to tell her ‘OK, back off a little bit.’ If you’re not used to that, it can be intimidating.”

Leverenz said the team has had to work on blending with Zimmerman, but it helped that she already played with some of them through Puget Sound Volleyball.

“They allow her to step in and lead, which could be hard for some kids,” she said. “They get territorial.”

Auburn Mountainview coach Telia McDonald said Zimmerman was well-known before she even suited up for their cross-town rival.

“She’s very competitive,” she said. “It’s always exciting that we have those athletes in the Auburn School District who are competitive and going to the next level.”

Zimmerman, an honors student, has given a verbal commitment to Colorado State University, which has historically been successful in the NCAA Tournament. She plans to study criminal justice and go into a law-related profession: FBI agent, lawyer, or, not surprisingly, a cop.

“As a player, the goal is to get the ball to hit the floor on the other side,” she said. “As a cop, you have a goal to protect and get as many bad people off the street as you can. I like a job that has one focused goal.”

And right now, that goal is to win a state title in the sport that she took up at age 8 and calls her “addiction.”

“It just feels like we jell really well,” Zimmerman said. “We all have the same goal in mind and the same intensity level. We go all out.

“I really feel like we can do this.”