During the early signing period, the Western Volleyball Team signed three new recruits for the 2021-22 season.
By Ryan Myrvold
Western’s volleyball team is preparing to make a comeback next year by signing three new players who will debut in the 2021-22 season.
Diane Flick-Williams, who has been the head volleyball coach at Western for 20 years, said the new players — Devyn Oestreich, Abby May and Karli Tri — will make great additions to the team.
“They’re just really comfortable to talk with, they’re really excited about coming to Western,” Flick-Williams said. “It’s really great to have people who really really want to be here and be a part of something we find is very special.”
Tri was recruited to the team to play middle, while May and Oestreich were recruited as pin hitters. While a pin hitter mostly tries to receive serves and hit the ball at either side of the net, the middle stands in the middle of the court and mostly tries to hit and block.
Oestreich, an athlete at Capital High School who was recruited to the team as a pin hitter, said she chose to play for Western’s volleyball team because of the way the coaches created a highly competitive environment while still treating the players like family.
Katie Turcotte, the head volleyball coach at Capital High School, said Oestreich is a positive, dynamic athlete who always brings her love of the game to the court.
“Her soul radiates joy,” Turcotte said. “She is somebody that just brings that focused energy, but at the same time it’s always a positive, encouraging vibe that you get from her. She loves to laugh, and as much as she is a hardworking volleyball player, she’s never too serious.”
May, an athlete at Issaquah High School who was also recruited to the Western volleyball team as a pin hitter, said she’s excited to come to Western.
“I chose WWU because it’s a great academic school and has an amazing and supportive community. I haven’t heard one bad thing about WWU and everyone I’ve talked to who went there said they loved it,” May said. “I got to know James and Diane over Zoom calls these past several months and fell in love with their coaching philosophy and the sense of family they have created with their program. I’m so excited to be a Viking.”
Tami Reese, the head coach of the Issaquah High School volleyball team, said May has a very high volleyball IQ and has the ability to know where the ball will go and when.
“She was always in the right spot at the right time, and she could always follow the ball and knew every single thing that was going on in the match and in the game,” Reese said. “She knows exactly what’s gonna happen all the time and she did the entire season.”
Tri, who plays at Lake Stevens High School, was recruited as a middle and is excited to come to Western as well.
“I chose Western because of the welcoming atmosphere I was greeted with the second I stepped into Carver Gym,” Tri said. “Watching the team play and seeing how much they supported each other immediately made me want to be a part of that family. Also seeing the success of the program that Diane and James have built definitely drew me in. I love Bellingham and the beautiful campus that Western had to offer.”
Kyle Hoglund, the head coach of the Lake Stevens High School volleyball team, said Tri is an athlete whose work ethic and drive to improve is significant, but brings up the team through her leadership.
“One of her unique talents is that she is a fun person to be around; she will sometimes take those off-court, non-volleyball related times when we’re together and just add to the fun,” Hoglund said. “Her competitiveness when she’s on the court holds other teammates accountable in the right way, that is uplifting, but also gets teammates on track.”
While coaches and athletes have high hopes for a successful season next year, Emily Cabano, who holds a master’s degree in sport and performance psychology and is a sports psychology consultant at Seattle Pacific University, said social distancing guidelines may impact the athletes’ stress and how they perform during the 2021 season if they are enforced.
“Transitioning to college in a pandemic is more difficult, and the transition to college for athletes is always difficult,” Cabano said. “When you’re having this big change in your life and then you’re also having a pandemic going on, that’s very, very stressful.”
Despite these difficulties, Flick-Williams still believes in the potential that these athletes will be bringing to the team.
“The enthusiasm they bring even amongst the times where they’ve had pretty rough junior, now into their senior year they still see the excitement of what’s to come, and the future for them,” Flick-Williams said. “It’s fun just to get to know them when we get on the phone or on Zoom together.”