It was a long road for Mercer Island High School to win their first state volleyball championship, and to keep it, they need dynamic new players to compliment their five returners.
“It’s more real once you’ve done it,” said Senior Brooke Behrbaum of defending their state title.
Last year Mercer Island High School (23-2) beat Holy Names Academy for the title with a 3-2 victory.
Head Coach Susan McKay and top players Behrbaum and Junior Jemma Yeadon attributed their win to key players, such as Sara Lindquist, setting specific goals, and strategizing for each individual match.
Outside hitter Lindquist, who is playing at Dartmouth this fall, was the All-League MVP last year, and led the team with 35 kills in the championship match.
“We have a lot of players who will potentially fill that—some sophomores and juniors,” said Behrbaum. “It will be someone who hasn’t been on Varsity before, and someone who’s going to start and carry the team.”
Yeadon is the team’s only returning outside hitter, and she said she was glad to fill Lindquist’s role as an even keeled leader.
“It’s not just a skill aspect that we’re going to miss Sara, [but also] her energy and her positivity,” Yeadon said.
When asked about the team’s off season, Yeadon joked, “What off season?”
Behrbaum and Yeadon, along with other teammates, have been busy playing club volleyball in the spring and hosting open gyms and preseason training in the summer.
Behrbaum said she and Yeadon practiced twice a week with their club team, Sudden Impact, and hit the weight room on the other days. Out-of-season coaching regulations has kept McKay from training with her team, but Yeadon said having the older girls run open gyms “spark[ed] leadership,” and helped them improve by methodically teaching young players.
“It allows the people who have played before to develop their skills in a new way by explaining what they’re doing and how to do it,” Behrbaum said. “It ends up giving you a new understanding.”
Behrbaum, a Penn commit, is a 4-year starting middle. She was out for the first month of last season with a shoulder injury, but had 83 kills and 34 blocks.
“Brooke’s technical knowledge of volleyball is the most advanced of any player,” McKay said. “She cares about the little details and the numbers and the positioning.”
The 5’8” Yeadon was named to the All-League first team as a sophomore and had 335 kills, 46 aces, and 283 digs last season.
“She plays like she’s 6’2”. She jumps so high, and she hits harder than anyone I’ve seen,” McKay said.
McKay also highlighted Senior Middle Blocker Olivia Hughes and Sophomore Setter Natalie Robinson. Last year Hughes had 72 kills and 59 blocks. Robinson was named to an All-League team as a freshman and had 49 kills, 65 aces, and 164 digs last season.