Sports

Arlington spikers seek turnaround

As coach Cari Britt watches on, hitter Bree Covey goes for the kill in an afternoon team scrimmage. Britt said she’s seen an improvement in her team since they spent the summer drilling and playing club ball. -
As coach Cari Britt watches on, hitter Bree Covey goes for the kill in an afternoon team scrimmage. Britt said she’s seen an improvement in her team since they spent the summer drilling and playing club ball.
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Arlington volleyball coach Cari Britt has been charged with a formidable task — to make lemonade out of the lemon seasons Arlington volleyball has known.

And it is definitely the work of more than one season as Britt can attest, after the team went winless in her first year at the helm.

“Our league is tough, especially since we’re a program that hasn’t necessarily been successful in the past. I’m trying to change that,” she said, adding that her plan for a turnaround has already been underway for several months.

Players were encouraged to join club volleyball teams to work on their skills, while summer tournaments were scheduled to develop the team’s competitiveness and chemistry. With the official season underway, that has also meant more drills and tougher practices.

But one of the program’s biggest challenges can’t really be overcome until the games begin.

“Mental toughness is a big one and we’re going to work on that,” Britt added. “I started to work on that in the summertime with them. We don’t know what it feels like to win, to get over that hump. It won’t be easy.”

Certainly it won’t be easy, but Britt, who spent 11 years as an assistant with the highly successful program at Kennedy High in Burien, isn’t lowering the bar for her team. She hopes to make districts, a feat that she notes would require the team to win more games than the program has seen in most of the players’ lifetimes.

“But I think once we get over than hump and start winning, they’ll know what it feels like, it will feel good and we’ll start winning more matches,” she said.

Britt named five returning players and a sixth who ought to be critical to Arlington’s chances of achieving her ambitious goal.

Running the offense will be setter Kelsey Zaban. Key all-around players include Bree Covey, Amanda Bottini and Casey Swinney.

“They’re just very good all-around players. They hit well, serve well,” she said. “In order for us to do well, they need to be on their game.”

Allison Taylor is also expected to return while Britt names Kirstin Wright as a key newcomer.

Arlington faces its first conference opponent in Stanwood, Sept. 11.

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