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Mabton volleyball coach, players receive recognition

Olivia Mendoza, the coach of the Mabton High School volley ball team, was voted Coach of the Year for the Greater Columbia "B" League.

Coaches from the Greater Columbia League are the ones who voted Mendoza as Coach of the Year.

Along with Coach Mendoza, Mabton High volleyball players Mayra Diaz and Alida Mendoza were named to the Greater Columbia "B" League All Opponent Team. They are both seniors this year.

"I think it's a big honor," Coach Mendoza said. Still, she's a little sad her girls didn't go as far as they could have.

"I'm happy for her because I think she really deserves it," Alida said. "It's nice that other people see it too.

Mayra Diaz felt the same way. "I feel honored as well having a great coach like her," she said. "She was always advising us and trying to get us to do our best."

Coach Mendoza might have been surprised but her girls knew she was the top coach this year.

"I felt it but I didn't know if everyone saw it," Diaz said. There were teams with better records and I didn't know if that would affect it. I personally thought she was my #1 coach."

Mendoza, who just finished her fourth year coaching Mabton volleyball, says she has learned a lot from her girls.

"When I first got here they told me I didn't yell at them enough," she remembered.

"She has gotten a little more strict over the years but we don't mind," Diaz added.

Over the last four years the coach has focused on the positives for the team. She said she tried to teach as if it's a life experience. When they went to play at other schools, she reminded them they were representing Mabton.

"Our girls got a lot of comments on how polite and respectful they were," Coach Mendoza said.

This has been apparent as the Mabton team was given the best sportsmanship nod in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

This is Alida Mendoza's second time being named to the All-Opponent Team although it wasn't on her mind during the season. "I never really thought about it," she said. "I just went out and played."

This has been a busy year so far for Alida. Along with a 3.8 G.P.A., she was also named this year's homecoming queen.

Diaz has a 3.5 G.P.A. and this is her first time being named to the All-Opponent Team.

"I have the smartest girls on my team," Coach Mendoza enthused.

"These girls were picked by what other coaches see," she added. "What they don't see is us when we practice. They were the leaders of this team and they gave 100 percent at the practices."

Mabton finished with a league record of 5-5, and 11-8 overall and made it to the District Championships. What's next for these three now?

Alida wants to go to college and play volleyball but she doesn't know where yet. She is in the process of applying to Gonzaga but at least one other school has shown interest in her.

Diaz has hopes of going to Washington State University and maybe playing for the volleyball team there.

Coach Mendoza see both girls playing at the collegiate level.

As for the 2005 Greater Columbia "B" League Coach of the Year, she's not so sure what lies in her future.

She has been thinking of taking some time off to spend more time with her family. Her daughter is a volleyball player at Sunnyside High School and she only got to see one of her games this year. She's also been asked to coach the 15-year-olds of Team Yakima. This volleyball league goes from November to May.

Her husband, who works for Mabton High, and her daughter don't want her to stop coaching at Mabton though. Neither does her team.

"More and more girls are playing now," Alida said. "When I was a freshman, there was barely enough girls to have varsity and junior varsity teams."

This year Mabton had a C squad for the first time and the girls think the high turn-out for volleyball is mainly because of Coach Mendoza.

"I know that if I was coming back to play at Mabton, I couldn't see myself playing for anyone else," Diaz added.

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