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Mead the clear-cut favorite in GSL volleyball

Mead volleyball coach Shawn Wilson, shown in 2015, has his Panthers back at the State 4A tournament. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Mead volleyball coach Shawn Wilson, shown in 2015, has his Panthers back at the State 4A tournament. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Greg Lee,gregl@spokesman.com,(509) 844-8168

Mead volleyball coach Shawn Wilson sat alongside former coach Judy Kight during 17 of the Panthers’ golden years.

Most years the Panthers not only expected to capture the Greater Spokane League championship, but they advanced to state and challenged for a title.

So with five starters and 10 lettermen back in his second year as head coach, Wilson knows what is possible with an experienced team.

“I think we match up with a lot of the teams we had in the past,” Wilson said. “We historically had really good talent.”

One of the key elements that is as important as talent, Wilson said, is chemistry.

“The chemistry matches up well with past teams,” he said. “They’re the kind of players who are good buddies off the court as well. The whole team hangs around year round. That’s what some of the past successful teams had. Mix talent with good chemistry and good things happen.”

It’s obvious why Mead is heavily favored to capture the league championship.

“A lot of the girls are used to a target on their backs,” Wilson said. “Mead, historically, has been dominant the last 15 to 20 years. We feel like we always have a target on our backs.”

For good reason this fall. The Panthers return their outside hitters in senior Amanda Chan, a state high jump champion, and junior Maddie Lee. Also back is senior setter Sarah Absalonson along with the Russell triplets – juniors Lindsey, McKenna and Allison.

Mead is coming off a fifth-place finish at state. The Panthers have higher goals this fall.

“We’d like to repeat some history that we’ve had in the past,” Wilson said. “It’s going to take focus and drive – drive to get better. Some teams are good and they know it, and they don’t push as hard. They have to push hard. I think it’s there.”

Chan and Lee both have deep roots in Mead’s program. Both had sisters play at Mead.

“We’re excited about the season,” said Chan, a three-sport standout. “We were a young team last year but it benefitted us. I wouldn’t say losing at state was a bad thing. It gave us a better understanding of what was to come for this season.”

Lee said getting to state last year has given the Panthers a hunger for more this fall.

“That experience opened our eyes a lot,” Lee said. “We did well last year but we want to accomplish more.”

Wilson said it will take keener focus this year.

“You have to be at the top of your game to push the odds in your favor so you can win,” Wilson said. “Because there are always five or six teams at state that can win.”

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