Volleyball Ranked and Ready to Go

SALEM—In the three years since Tricia Wright took over as Willamette University volleyball team head coach, the Bearcats have worked their way from 7th place in the conference to being picked by the coaches of the NWC to finish 2nd place in the upcoming season.

Wright (pictured left), enters her third season as head coach with a 29-23 record, and is excited that the conference is finally recognizing these athletes as competitive players.

“They are getting the respect that they deserve,” said Wright. “It’s going to be hard to replace the competitive nature and talent that graduate Jenni Linden brought to the team, but our returning starters are exceptional players who are eager to take the team the rest of the way.”

The Bearcats returning starters are All American and outside hitter Kristen Halleck, outside hitter Angie Sammons, right side hitter Lauren Thompson, libero Celia Batlan, and setter Jodi Zaffino.

Although the Bearcats lost two strong middle blockers, the solid core of returning players and a handful of freshman will add depth and new talent to those positions.

“Games are not going to be handed over to us. It’s going to be a competitive season. What will make this season different from the last two is that the team has noticed a shift in respect. This recognition has given them confidence. Confidence will make all the difference in the world.” Wright said.

“Our returning players have trained hard and are prepared to lead and teach the young members of our team. Our new freshman have talent; we have a tough conference, but that’s where it’s all at, that’s what makes it fun!”

In addition to assistant coach Jessica Rombach, Crystal Demello, and Kevin Takayama will be joining the team as coaches.

“We’re not going to sneak up on people this year like we did in 2003,” said Wright. “Our job will be to play at a high level every night. If we can do that and add in a little fun, we’ll have another solid season.”

Tricia Wright

Tricia Wright