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Young SHS volleyball squad growing up fast

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Vanessa Alvarez goes up for a kill for the Lady Grizzly freshman volleyball team during a 3-0 sweep at home over Kamiakin this past Tuesday.

Don't let the freshman moniker fool you, the Sunnyside High School freshman volleyball team is not to be taken for granted.

Their opponents can attest to that, as the young Lady Grizzlies boast an 8-3 record this season.

Crystal Cardenas is the team's coach, and she says the fine start is a result of hard work in practice.

"When the girls step on the court they know it's time to get busy," she says. "They really challenge and push each other in practice and work every day on their skills and team unity."

Cardenas says the team is filled with eager learners ready to be coached.

"They are able to learn from their mistakes, work on correcting it, and moving onto the next thing," the coach said. "It's also nice that these girls are athletic and aggressive."

That translates well when it's match time.

"When it's time to play another team, they attack the ball and they don't let any hit the floor without putting effort in trying to keep it in play. They have the bruises to prove it," Cardenas says.

The coach says the players are all about team, cheering each other on after a good play and picking up the pieces together after a bad play.

The "team first" approach extends to the fact Cardenas doesn't even keep individual stats on her players.

As a result, when you ask Cardenas about the season's highlights so far, she talks in terms of team victories and hard work.

"Kamiakin was a big win for us," Cardenas said. "We played them on their home court and I could tell the girls were a little intimidated because the other team was bigger than us."

She added, "The first game we lost by a couple of points. I could see after the game that the girls looked a little more confident in their own skills and knew they could compete with one of the top teams in our league."

The result was back-to-back victories in games two and three to win the match against Kamiakin.

Other big wins this season include knocking off West Valley, Pasco and Eastmont.

Last month the girls played eight games in an all-freshman volleyball tournament in Pasco.

"The girls were exhausted, but found different ways to pull through it and come out victorious. They ended the day with a 6-2 record," Cardenas said.

Cardenas will tell you this season isn't all about wins and losses, though, it's about preparing players for the Lady Grizzly varsity squad.

From what she's seen of this year's freshmen, Cardenas says the future is bright for the varsity volleyball program.

"If the girls continue to play in the off-season and keep up a workout regimen they will find success with the varsity and JV squads," the coach said.

The future may be here sooner than expected for some of the players, Cardenas adds.

"Some girls are already showing varsity level quality," she says. "Our head coach is excited to see what these girls can do for the program within the next three years.

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