Douglas JV volleyball coach named Tigers’ varsity head coach
If the Douglas volleyball team is to accomplish its goal of winning the 4A State championship this year, the Tigers likely will be able to look back to this week as the most crucial seven-day stretch of the season.
The Tigers improved to 7-1 with a pair of three-game wins in tough places to play – at Elko on Tuesday and at rival Carson on Thursday.
And they did it with a new head coach. Former junior varsity coach Kira Laden was named the varsity head coach this week after Scott Akimoto resigned because of health concerns.
“I’m not going to make a lot of major changes,” Laden said Friday morning. “Janis McCreary has been helping me out a ton. We’re focusing on getting the girls to have fun and relax when they play. These girls have played a lot of volleyball. Eighty percent of the time they know what they’re doing wrong. It’s a matter of getting them motivated and working as team.”
If the early results are any indication, Laden won’t have any trouble convincing her players to carry her philosophy onto the court with them. That’s because she will be coaching from a position of experience.
Laden started at setter for two seasons for the Division I Montana State Bobcats. She was named the Newcomer of the Year for the Big Sky Conference after her junior year.
After graduating from Montana’s Belgrade High in 1993, Laden went on to a successful two-year career at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. She twice earned first-team all-Frontier Conference recognition while leading the Saints to two conference championships.
Laden, who joined the Douglas program as the JV head coach last season, said she’s looking forward to working with the varsity squad as it tries to win the school’s second State championship in the last four years.
“I think it’s a great group of kids,” she said. “There’s a real diversity of personalities and it’s a fun group.
“They’re all very competitive girls, which is excellent, but they can get frustrated when things don’t go well. We’re trying to help them learn how to keep playing and concentrating on their game instead of the frustration.”
Suzi Townsell, who coached the Douglas JV in 1999, will take over as the coach of the junior varsity team.
At Carson on Thursday, a potentially scary play in the first game helped the Tigers shake a case of nerves against their rivals.
Setter Brittany Addeo and middle hitter/blocker Emily Haas collided during a scramble for the ball. Haas got the worst of the mishap – a black eye – but she and her teammates were able to see a little humor in the situation.
“We started out a little intense in the first game,” Laden said. “After the collision, everyone started laughing and they relaxed and then they played great.”
The result was 15-12, 15-11, 16-14 victory.
Haas and Chelsey Myers each finished with 11 kills against the Senators. Myers added six aces. Addeo dished out 38 assists and served three aces. Jencie LeJeune had seven kills.
Megan Brinkmeyer and Haas each had four blocks. Myers added three blocks.
“They blocked really well in the last two matches,” Laden said. “That’s one thing I’ve been impressed with. I’ve been real happy with their blocking. Megan and Emily are doing a nice job controlling the net.”
LeJeune led the Tigers with 14 kills and 16 digs in a 15-12, 15-9, 15-10 win over Elko on Tuesday.
Myers had 11 kills and two aces, Haas added nine kills, and Michelle Paterson finished with seven kills.
Andrea Honer had 15 digs. Addeo had 31 assists.