Arlington spikers working to improve

ARLINGTON — First-year volleyball coach Melissa Thompson likes the work ethic put forward by her squad of girls so far.

“As long as they’re progressing, that’s a good indication that we’re going in the right direction,” Thompson said.

That’s good news for the former Grace Academy coach and Arlington resident who is taking over the reins this year for an Arlington program that went 0-16 last season.

The Eagles lost a number of seniors from last year’s group, but are hoping that a core group of incoming seniors can help build a foundation for success that younger players can embrace.

Those seniors include returning setter Melissa Webb and middle hitter Kenzie Jorgenson.

While the majority of girls have varsity experience, it will be a handful of younger players who will also be asked to contribute this year.

“We have a lot of younger girls that are developing,” Thompson said. “That will be nice to see. We have a lot of potential for girls to step up.”

Arlington lost five seniors from the 2009 team, including libero Kirstin Wright, Karissa Scarth and Amanda Bottini.

The coach said she likes what she has seen during practice. Sixty-three girls turned out for volleyball this year, but that number has been whittled down to 36 for the varsity and junior varsity squads.

“The girls have heart — they want to be here,” Thompson said. “That’s a huge strength. They’re really thirsty and they’re excited to be here.”

Thompson said her goal is to take a disciplined approach with the team, but admitted that winning isn’t the immediate priority for the Eagles.

She described her coaching style as “encouraging and intense,” with an emphasis on constant movement.

“We’re always moving, always pushing,” she said.

Once the basics are in place, Thompson, a former Marysville-Pilchuck player, said that the program will begin to take shape.

“I hope to be here for the long-term,” she said. “It takes three-to-four years to build a program. I’m willing to take the time to do it right, but we want to have some success, too.”

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