Cle Elum volleyball

The Cle Elum-Roslyn High School volleyball team has seen improvement in the second year under coach Patricia Garris. The team hosts Granger at 6 p.m. today.

CLE ELUM — When Patricia Garris moved back to her home town Cle Elum 3 1/2 years ago and saw the Cle Elum-Roslyn High School volleyball head coaching position open for the 2018 season, she believed this was her opportunity to give back to the community.

Not only to build a successful program but to impact the students’ lives.

“Coaching isn’t always just about volleyball. It’s about life lessons,” Garris said. “It’s also about teaching them life skills.”

Garris was a Cle Elum-Roslyn graduate in 1986 and was part of the perennial basketball team that won two state titles and a formidable Warrior volleyball team.

She moved on to play collegiality in both sports. She was on the Northwest Nazarene volleyball team until she blew out her shoulder and took a slight hiatus before transferring Yakima Valley College for basketball and then finishing at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska where she lived for 24 years.

Her background in playing, coaching, and refereeing runs deep. She’s coached both sports at multiple levels (more so volleyball) since 1994 when her first stint was at Kettle Falls High School.

But she’s back with the Warriors and in her second season as coach, the improvement is manifest. In 2018, Cle Elum-Roslyn finished 2-12, 2-10 in the South Central Athletic Conference.

In 2019, the Warriors sit at 3-3, 2-3 SCAC. They have wins over Cashmere (3-1), Highland (3-2) and Naches Valley (3-0). At this point last season, Cle Elum-Roslyn was 1-5 overall.

It added 6-foot sophomore Kindall Gray-Michael and made some moves around the court, such as senior Davi Vaughn switching from an all-around player to libero. Six games in, Vaughn has accumulated 80 digs.

“That actually really helped because she’s our best passer,” Garris said. “That made a lot of changes.”

It returned the senior Baker twins (Natali and Naomi) who are both captains along with Vaughn. Naomi Baker leads the team in kills (39) and aces (9). Natali Baker on the other hand leads the Warriors in assists (115) of the team’s 119.

Having a year more of experience has paid dividends under the second-year coach.

“She (Garris) lets us see what we need to change,” said Natali Baker. “She allows us to talk about it and applies it in our practices.”

The Warrior volleyball program is growing. Cle Elum-Roslyn went from 18 girls to 24 this season. And Garris expects about 30 next season and even more the following year.

“I think the positive vibes that are coming out of the program,” Garris said on the program’s growth.

Those positive vibes derive from summer volleyball camps, fundraisers, and future goals such as having a knowledge camp and hosting high school and JV tournaments during the season.

But like any new coach, it takes time to implement their style and gain trust from the team.

“It takes time,” Garris said. “And people have to buy in, parents have to buy into what we’re doing. It takes time for people to believe that you’re here for the kids best interest.”

The Warriors host Granger High School at 6:30 p.m. today.

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