WALLA WALLA - Walla Walla Community College sophomore Corrine Holbrook is hoping the success she enjoyed as a middle blocker during her junior and senior years at Wa-Hi - in which the Blue Devils qualified for back-to-back regional tournaments - will carry over to her sophomore year at WWCC.
Holbrook and her teammates have added incentive for success. The Warriors did not qualify for the 2009 NWAACC championships - a disappointment that coach Tim Toon's program experienced for the first time in 10 seasons.
Like her fellow sophomore co-captains Sharsti Goff and Carley Miller, Holbrook appears to be determined to do her part to see that history does not repeat itself.
"We didn't make it and that's added to the fight," said Holbrook, who posted 127 kills and 125 digs last season. "This is our last year. We want the season to end better this year than it did last year."
Prior to donning a WWCC uniform, Holbrook had a chance to train with her future teammates during the 2009 offseason. It was "nerve-wracking" at first, Holbrook admitted, but the extra commitment resulted in stints as an outside hitter, defensive specialist and middle blocker a season ago.
This year, Holbrook will be stationed exclusively at middle blocker.
"It's been a lot easier this year," Holbrook said. "It's nice to know what the program is about as opposed to coming in as a new player.
"This year, I can focus all my time on that one role and perfect it," Holbrook said.
And how about the role of co-captain?
"They (the freshmen players) will look to you when times are tough," Holbrook said. "It will give you a chance to show your leadership - which hopefully will come through tough times.
"We (the captains) will push the team and make sure everyone is reaching for the same goal," Holbrook said.
Team unity is a definite strength in 2010, according to Holbrook.
"We're more of a team this year," Holbrook said. "We all get along well. We're all here for the same reason - to win the NWAACC and have fun at the same time."
The Warriors scrimmaged Yakima Valley, Big Bend, Wenatchee and Everett on Aug. 23 in Yakima, and beat Whitman Wednesday night before traveling to western Washington this weekend for a match with Tacoma and tournament at Highline.
"We stayed consistently strong from start to finish," Holbrook said of the scrimmages. "We saw a lot of good things from everybody and saw some things we need to work on."
Walla Walla's biggest challenges this season, Holbrook said, will come from a trio of Eastern Region foes - defending NWAACC champion Spokane, Blue Mountain and Wenatchee.
What does Toon, in his 18th season at WWCC, say is Holbrook's strongest attribute?
"First and foremost, leadership," Toon said. "She is very confident, sure of herself and is willing to share what she knows. The team really respects her.
"They respond well to her leadership style," Toon said. "She elevates the quality of things."
Toon appreciates Holbrook's work ethic - both inside and outside the Dietrich Dome.
"On the court, she is very smart and works her tail off," Toon said. "She is probably the smallest middle blocker (5-foot-7) in the NWAACC, but the smartest.
"She competes as hard in the classroom as she does on the court," Toon said. "A true student-athlete."
AREA VOLLEYBALL PREVIEWS
WALLA WALLA COMMUNITY COLLEGE QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Tim Toon, 18th year.
Last season: 7-7 in the NWAACC Eastern Region, 23-18 overall. Came within one win of qualifying for the NWAACC Tournament.
Key losses: Megan Tompkins, S; Ashley Magee, MB,
Key returners: Sharsti Goff, S/Lib.; Nikki Long, OH.
Strengths: Strong sophomore class.
Weaknesses: Freshmen adapting to the collegiate level.
Quotes: "The returning players worked really hard in the offseason and had good success in spring tournaments. We are once again positioned to be among the top teams in the NWAACC." - Tim Toon.
WALLA WALLA UNIVERISTY QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Don Hepker, 12th year.
Last season: 14-16 overall. Went 2-2 in Independent Conference tournament.
Key losses: Quijuana Oucharek, Lib.; Anto Bedros, RS; Elisa Westman, MB; Ashley Zalsman, MB.
Key returners: Torrey Haddad, S; Natalie Wilkining, OH; Heather McFadden, OH; Michelle Warner, MB.
Strengths: Stronger in the middle, more experienced at setting and outside hitting.
Weaknesses: Young on the right side and at the libero position.
Quotes: "This year will be fairly exciting. We've started slow, but every time we've stepped on the court we've gotten better. I'm confident we'll peak before the conference tournament." - Don Hepker.
WHITMAN QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Carolyn Papineau, fourth year.
Last season: 3-13 in the Northwest Conference, 6-17 overall.
Key losses: Alex Graves, OH; Brea Robirds, OH.
Key returners: Courtney Brewer, MB; Olivia Nielson, MB; Carrie Cecil, OH.
Strengths: Talented recruiting class.
Quotes: "What's going to make a difference are the positives that this group brings to the floor - lots of talent and tons of energy, enthusiasm and competitive fire." - Carolyn Papineau.
Head coach: Jolene Calzadillas, first year.
Last season: Finished third in the South Central Athletic Conference's East Division. Advanced to the district tournament.
Key losses: Tiffany Idler, MH; Nicole Roberts, MH; Jeni Ackerblade, OH.
Key returners: Hannah Pierce, OH; Hailey Butler, S; Ashley Zuhlke, Lib.
Strengths: Senior leadership, team unity, love of the sport.
Quotes: "I am very excited to be coaching at Burbank. It is a wonderful community with outstanding support. The girls are developing and improving every day along with having to adjust to my system. We are looking forward to competing and hopeful for a winning season." - Jolene Calzadillas.
DAYTON QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Shannon Turner, 14th year.
Last season: Finished 5-3 in Blue Mountain 2B League, 7-7 overall. Came within one district victory of advancing to Class 2B state tournament.
Key losses: Mieke Masselink, OH.
Key returners: Kayla Turner, S/OH; Amanda Melton, MB; Nicole Lambert, Lib.; McKayla Bickelhaupt, OH.
Strengths: Versatility of the key returners.
Weaknesses: On-the-court experience.
Quotes: "The group that I have this year is very athletic. We're off to a great start at practice. I'm looking forward to the season." - Shannon Turner.
DESALES QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Lori Blanc, third year.
Last season: Finished third in Blue Mountain 2B League.
Key losses: Caitlin Duncan, MH; Jamie Majerus, OH; Claire Elmenhurst, OH; Amanda Warnick, S; Roxanna Acock, Lib.
Key returners: Megan Moberg, MH; Abby Larreau, MH; Stephanie Ferrel, OH; Annie Higgins, OH; Chantel Blanc, S.
Strengths: Defense, quickness, aggressiveness, highly motivated.
Quotes: "I think the chemistry of this year's team is going to be one of their biggest assets. I have high hopes for this season and know they have the potential to finish in the top of the league." - Lori Blanc.
HELIX QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Tammie Parker, 10th year.
Last season: 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference, 28-8 overall. Won fourth straight district championship and finished second in the Oregon Class 1A state tournament.
Key losses: Britney Smith, OH; Kylee Rogers, S; Meghan Schroeder, OH; Addie Terjeson, Middle.
Key returners: Chyanne Hack, Middle; Claire Ely, Lib.; Niccy Thompson, Outside.
Strengths: Leadership and determination.
Weaknesses: Lack of numbers.
Quotes: "The team has set high standards for themselves and we look forward to another great year." - Tammie Parker.
MAC-HI QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Kaila Rodighiero, first year.
Last season: Finished fourth in the Greater Oregon League.
Key losses: Sierra Burchell, MH.
Key returners: Jolene Brannan, Jayme Freemantle, Allison Varday, Courtney Koch.
Strengths: Potential, talent, discipline, work ethic.
Quotes: "I'm so excited for the season. The team is fun, energetic, and they have heart. They support each other and that's one of the most important characteristics of a team. They have been working hard and been putting their blood and tears into practices. I expect a lot of good things this season. I absolutely believe in this team." - Kaila Rodighiero.
POMEROY QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Bruce Crossfield, second year.
Last season: Second in the District 9 2B tournament and qualified for state.
Key losses: Heather Van Vogt, OH.
Key returners: Melissa Bartlow, S; Kindsey Bott, MH; Maddie Grimm, DS; Sadie Slaybaugh, RS; Sydni Gormsun, S.
Strengths: Players returning, team speed, quickness.
Weaknesses: Need to improve passing, more effective serving.
Quotes: "The league we're in (Class 1B) is pretty tough. The league finished 1-2-3 in state last year. I think every night is going to be pretty tough." - Bruce Crossfield.
TOUCHET QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Stephanie Paulson, second year.
Last season: 4-10 overall.
Key losses: Zoe Weaver, Liza Pedroza.
Key returners: Hillary Intinarelli, Kristen Warner.
Weaknesses: Lack of playing time together.
Quotes: "We will have a young team this season and we are looking forward to watching them come together and grow as a team." - Stephanie Paulson.
Head coach: Jessie Buehler, second year.
Last season: 4-6 in the Blue Mountain 2B League, 11-9 overall. Reached the Class 2B District 9 tournament.
Key losses: Amanda Weis, S; Angelina Paniagua, Lib.; Kyla Harris, OH; Taelor Carter, RS.
Key returners: Genesis Pearson, MB; Megan Withers, OH; Alyssa Hafen, RS; Ronnie Hulce, Middle; Rachelle Oseth, DS; Kayla Huxoll, S; Crystal Harris, S/RS.
Strengths: Good group of seniors, offense, serving, defensive play, passing.
Weaknesses: Experience at the setter and libero positions.
Quotes: "We lost a lot of seniors, but we have a good group of juniors and seniors coming up. They are competitive and talented. They've meshed together, worked hard in practice, and have big goals. They're going to prove them. We were playing our best at the end (of last season) once our players bought in to an advanced level of play. We just need to stay focused on what we have to do." - Jessie Buehler.
WA-HI QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Audra Cummings, third year.
Last season: Finished fourth in the Big Nine Conference's Cascade Division.
Key losses: Courtney Zaro, OH; Jill McDaniels, S; Alicia Baker, RS.
Key returners: Brogan Watson, S; Chantelle Zamora, OH/RS; Devyn Humphreys, MB; Kennedy Snider, OH; Lexie Mahan, OH/MB; Madeline Jacobson, OH; Tianna Cummings, Lib.
Strengths: Athletic junior class.
Weaknesses: None listed.
Quotes: "This group of young ladies are competitive and hard working. Both (assistant coach) Lindsey (Mahan) and I expect great things from this team." - Audra Cummings.
WALLA WALLA VALLEY ACADEMY QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Scott Schafer, third year.
Last season: 2-8 in the Blue Mountain 2B League, 10-9 overall.
Key losses: Victoria Buell, Cap.
Key returners: Sandy Avalos, Lib.; Bri Leen, MH; Kelsie Schafer, OH.
Weaknesses: None listed.
Quotes: "We feel like we can be competitive in the BML this year. The tournament that we look forward to since we do not go to state playoffs is the Fall Classic held at Walla Walla University. We feel like we can contend well in the tournament and place high." - Scott Schafer.
WESTON-MCEWEN QUICK FACTS
Head coach: Shawn White, eighth year.
Last season: 13-1 in the Blue Mountain Conference, 36-7 overall. Won the BMC and finished fourth in the Oregon Class 2A state tournament.
Key losses: Presley Pahl, MH; Mary Herbes, DS; Jessica Stevens, MH; Laina Fairchild, RS.
Key returners: Renee Baumann, LS; Morgan Entze, S; LeAnne Harden, Lib.; Hayley Freske, MH; Tiffany Cain, LS; Jordan Reger, RS/S.
Strengths: Enthusiasm, serving and determination.
Weaknesses: Lack of playing time as a unit.
Quotes: "We had a great summer and grew tremendously as volleyball players and athletes. The athletes are making quick progress and will be extremely competitive this year. Their chemistry and the fun they have make coaching them a joy." - Shawn White.