Hit the hardwood!

Mercer Island volleyball team has no equal this season

Mercer Island volleyball team has no equal this season

Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

I know, you just got home from school or work and ran to the mailbox to get the newest copy of the Reporter, like a seven year old on Christmas morning. OK, so maybe that’s over doing it. But you have to leave. You have to go back out to your car and drive to Skyline High School. I know, you’re tired, you want to relax. But this is big.

At 6:45 p.m. the Mercer Island girls volleyball team takes on the Spartans at Skyline High School in a battle of the unbeatens. OK I got ahead of myself again. Mercer Island is unbeaten, 12-0 overall, 6-0 in league play. Skyline is 6-0 in league and 8-4 overall. But this game, this week, is big for the Islanders and they need your support.

Mercer Island will also face a team that is their traditional rival on Friday at 3:45 p.m. at Newport High School. The Islanders and Knights have a history of playing up to their opponents level, no matter how well the better team is doing. It’s even on the way to Issaquah for the football game.

These volleyball games on Friday set up right after school were a great idea and the student body has responded by packing the stands during home games. But this week is different. The team needs you at Skyline and Newport. OK, so maybe I am over doing it again. They may not NEED you, no offense. After all, the Islanders are ranked third in the state and have not lost a single game this season. For those of you not into volleyball, let me put this into perspective. It would be like the football team being undefeated after six games and not allowing a single point on defense. They are that good.

They proved it last week annahilating Liberty and Mount Si. Against Liberty, the Islanders dominated on defense by holding the Patriots to single digits twice in three games. Mount Si had a bit more fight but still fell in three games before a great crowd in the Islander gymnasium.

But it is no wonder that this team is doing so well. The fire power, oh my goodness, the firepower this team has. Janelle Chow, do I need to say any more? Anyone even remotely associated with MIHS sports knows how good of an athlete Chow is. The best combination of speed and power the Islanders have seen since Callie Webster, who is now playing for the University of Colorado. And no offense to Webster, but Chow is a junior and as stunning as it may be to some on the sports beat, she seems to be improving. The heartbeat of this team has to be Amanda Nield. The three year starting center knows where to be and how to set up her teammates. I have admittedly only been to three of the in-league games but I have not seen an unforced error by Nield yet this year. Abby Trimble, who stands well over six feet tall, is a brick wall at the net. Trimble missed the beginning of the season with a leg injury, but has worked her way back into the lineup without messing up chemistry and adding one of the best middle blockers in the state. I am not going to name everyone on the team but I should (but I don’t have space) because they play like a machine. No yelling, no misdirection, no need for head coach Dino Annest to run out onto the court or use hand signals from the bench. They know each other and the plays that well. Annest is the architect of this juggernaught and it is no fluke. In the late 1990s he had some of the most dominating teams the school has ever seen. He had faith through a few lean years but the Islanders are back.

One curious link between those late 1990s and early 2000 teams is the name Rindlaub. And is it just coincidence that recent MIHS Hall of Fame inductee Julia Rindlaub, one of three sisters to make Mercer Island volleyball feared during that run, has returned this season as junior varsity coach.

During the past three years ,the idea of making it to state and placing in the top 10 was the goal. This year it is very different. This year the Islanders will have to travel east of the mountains for state, and you may not get to see them play, win and just maybe hoist that big trophy.

But all that aside. You owe it to yourself to go to Skyline High School today or Newport High School on Friday this week and scream your lungs out for your undefeated Islanders. They may not NEED you but you NEED to see them play. And I am not ahead of myself on that one.