By Quint Turner
The Meadowdale High School volleyball team hosts cross-town rival Edmonds-Woodway in the Mavs’ home opener, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday night. We asked head volleyball coach Machen Shrum for her thoughts on the upcoming season.
Q: How have you prepared your team for the upcoming season?
A: We start as soon as we can in June with open gyms and practices. This gets our returners back working together and allows our new freshman to learn our system and get to know our players. We attended a tournament at Seattle University and finished in the top four out of 16 and also took a team to Gonzaga University team camp in July for four days.
Q: Which players should we keep an eye on?
A: All of them. We have a strong returning team. We have two returning Wesco first-team players: Payton Shrum (senior setter) and Lindsey Milner (senior outside hitter). (Payton is Shrum’s daughter and the coach notes: “I have had the privilege of coaching her all four years.”) Emily Denham (senior) should be one of the top middle hitters in the league as well. Others: Carly Reece and Madison Norton (both junior outside hitters) and Sloane Morrison (sophomore middle/right side).
Q: As a coach, how do you motivate your players to do their best individually and as a team?
A: Our coaching staff really tries to create a sense of pride in their program and in their team. I want them to be motivated to play their absolute best as an individual for their teammates — not necessarily for themselves. We stress “having your teammates’ back.”
Q: What are you looking forward to most for this season?
A: I am really looking forward to this being one of our best seasons since I have been at Meadowdale (this is my sixth season). This is a great group of girls that get along amazingly well and work very hard at all times. We as a group are looking forward to working toward another state appearance and placing in the top eight this year. It’s a big goal, but one that we feel we can accomplish.
Q: What is your program’s philosophy?
A: I don’t have a deep, lengthy philosophy. Basically our philosophy is that we are a family from top to bottom. We expect our athletes to work hard, be respectful of every family member, hold each other accountable and grow in their volleyball skills/knowledge as well as their life skills. As coaches our job is to provide a safe environment and guidance for our athletes to make mistakes so that they are able to do these things.
Q: Are there any teams you look forward to competing against?
A: I am looking forward to playing Shorewood this year. We split with them in the regular season last year and had a battle with them in the District Tournament. They should be very strong again this year, and we always look forward to playing top teams. We play Edmonds-Woodway our very first match of the season as a non-counter, and we always look forward to playing them. We have a friendly rivalry — I was an assistant coach at E-W before coming to Meadowdale.
Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A: I am looking forward to having a very interchangeable squad. Every day in practice is a battle and I feel at any time any one of my players could be on the court and make a difference. I am excited about the newest members of our varsity team, they have all shown strong skills that will be utilized this year and the years to come.