"A new floor, and a new team"

"When the Spartan volleyball team opens its season Wednesday, the setting will be shiny new.So too will the team, which returns only three players from the 1999 squad that posted a 7-1 league record (16-9 overall) and was co-champion of the Olympic League.We're starting all over, coach Julie Miller said. Our new players played JV last year, but they're playing new positions that they haven't played at the varsity level, which always kind of makes it a rebuilding year.In keeping with the theme of newness, the Sparts have two new assistant coaches. Shaine Schramling will coach the JV team, while Susanna Pine will lead the C team.They both played college ball, and will benefit our program, Miller said.The top returning player is Sarah Frazee, a junior outside hitter who was second-team all-league last season. The other returning players are the Purdom sisters. Senior Michelle is described by Miller as a versatile utility player, while sophomore Kristina is an outside hitter who may also set.Frazee and Kristina Purdom polished their skills during the off-season by playing club volleyball, which Miller says is a step up from high-school varsity. Miller called both of them thinking hitters who will produce points at the net despite the lack of overwhelming size.Senior Ashley Pyles and junior Stephanie Hope may also see playing time at outside hitter.Sophomore Laura Bartunek, a high-jumper on the track team, will likely start the season at middle hitter. But she'll be pressed for playing time by a trio of juniors, Courtney Kimball, Heather Watkins and transfer Gretchen Gaither.At this juncture, the starting setters will likely be junior Kaiti Cruse and sophomore Carlie Miller. Others who will compete for the position are junior Shailah Maynard and sophomore Sarah Cook.As usual, Miller says the team's strong suit will be defense.We're not very tall, she said, but we're scrappy. We get the balls up and in play.She also expects the Spartan blocking game to produce points, especially Michelle Purdom and Bartunek. The emphasis before Wednesday's home opener against Peninsula will be on passing.Once you get your passing, the rest of the things kind of fall into place, Miller said.She says the Olympic League will stack up as usual, with traditional powers Sequim, Olympic and Central and North Kitsap fielding strong squads again.And while Miller expects a decent finish in the Olympic League, she's not particularly concerned about wins and losses. Winning is the end goal, but not the only goal, she said.She does think the team will benefit from moving into the new on-campus gymnasium, after playing for the last two years at Woodward Middle School.It will be really nice to play in here and maybe get some more fans out, she said. "

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