After a disappointing varsity season and a promising junior varsity season last year, the East girls volleyball team has the talent and the will to dish out some serious competition this fall.
Six of the nine girls on the varsity team are seniors, and last year as juniors and members of the JV team, they only lost one game.
"Last year the varsity team couldn't finish, we would play hard and keep the game close and then lose the match by only two points," said coach Metiline Havea, who has coached the team at East for the last four years. "They're amazing. We have some good leadership and talent on our team."
Leading the way, she said, are Susan Widdison and Darby Thomas who are captains and "two of my best players." Latoya Utu'one is only a sophomore who played varsity as a freshman. Becky Cannon is also an important part of the team.
"She is very positive," Havea said, "and that's what we need."
Darby Thomas, a six foot senior and team captain, has unfaltering confidence about her team's chances.
"We're going to dominate this year," she said. "We play well together because we have been on the same team for years. Last year, the team lacked unity because the seniors on the team weren't extending a hand to the younger players. The big problem last year was too much drama. This year, we're like family. We all get along. We spend practically the entire day together in school and in three hours of practice."
With strong-willed team leaders such as Thomas, East appears to be in good hands.
"We are qualified and have had a good standard for a long time. We shouldn't worry about the other teams, as long as we play up to and beyond our potential," said Thomas, who plays the middle position. "We also want to get people out to our games by making them more exciting and fun."
Susan Widdison, a junior outside hitter, can attack the ball with her right and left hands.
"We have been working a lot on defense to make our game better," Widdison said. "I think we'll kick butt this year."
With nowhere to go but up, the whole team is very optimistic and eager to show that they can finish their matches this season.
"The only team in competition that I'm concerned about this season is our team," Havea said. "I want these girls to play up to their ability. The team trusts each other; they all have fun on and off the court together."
A winning attitude will only help, the coach believes.
"We need to play to win, not to lose," she said. "We want to take region and go to state, and we can if these girls play their game. The team is still learning, but they are practicing hard. They all have great attitudes and are ideal players to coach."