There’s something Eva Linden is looking forward to when she goes to college.
It’s not volleyball — even though she’s extremely excited about playing for an NCAA Division I program at Portland State University starting in 2015.
“No one will touch my clothes,” said a gleeful Linden, the second-oldest of seven sisters ranging from ages five to 19. “The older four of us are pretty much the same size now.”
There is one outfit Linden definitely doesn’t share: The No. 12 uniform she suits up in as Fife High School’s standout outside hitter.
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This year marks the second time Linden will be on the court with one of her sisters. As a sophomore, she played alongside Lara, a three-time all-league outside hitter who now plays at Northwest University in Kirkland. This season, Annika, a ninth grader, will line up at setter, where Eva played half of last season.
“I’m really excited I get to play at least one year with her,” Linden said of Annika, who also stands at the 6-foot mark. “She’s a good player to have on our team.”
To say Fife coach Katy Ferguson feels similarly about the elder Linden would be an understatement.
“It’s kind of unreal coaching her; she’s so good,” said the Trojans’ second-year coach. “She’s probably one of the best athletes Fife is going to have. It’s pretty rare in (Class) 2A to see a kid this big and athletic.”
Last season, Linden recorded 318 kills and 147 assists en route to earning league player of the year honors in the 2A South Puget Sound League. She started the season as an outside hitter, but switched to setter midway through the year — and it carried into the state tournament.
Ferguson is intent on moving Linden back to outside hitter — and hopefully keeping her there this time around.
“Outside gets a lot of sets,” said Linden, who plays right-side setter for her club team at Puget Sound Volleyball Academy. “So I don’t mind.”
She is a fiery leader for the Trojans, developing that attitude in club volleyball, and playing two seasons at PSVA with legendary coach Jan Kirk, who retired in 2011.
“I love the competition of volleyball,” she said. “I love every minute of it.”
Being in the company of similarly-minded players will help Fife this year, Linden said.
“We have a lot more club players than other teams, so we get a lot more touches, and we work really hard as a team,” she said. “This year is kind of our year.”
Fife, a perennial favorite to win the 2A SPSL, has advanced to the state tournament the past two years, but was eliminated on the first day. Linden, a co-captain, expects to go further this year despite graduating three seniors.
“I think we gained just as much, if not more talent than we lost,” she said. “I think our team is better and we should place this year for sure.”
And getting to finish her career at Fife alongside her sister is especially meaningful, she said.
“I really like being able to play with my sisters,” she said. “That is something I will always remember.”