KITTITAS — With several returners for the Kittitas Secondary School volleyball team including senior outside hitter Taylor DeKoning, a George Fox University commit, expectations are high for the Coyotes coming into 2019.

Since head coach Daniel Robertson took over in 2014, his girls have missed the state tournament just once (2014). He’s been with the program for nine seasons now.

“Our expectations to do just as well or better than last year,” Robertson said

The Coyotes went 14-11, 8-3 in the Eastern Washington Athletic Conference in 2018. They opened up the first round of state defeating Auburn Adventist 3-0 (25-9, 25-12, 25-12) to guarantee themselves a second day at the tournament. It was the first time under Robertson that Kittitas won the opening game.

It would then fall to Liberty Spangle and Kalama high schools 3-0 to be eliminated.

Along with DeKoning, Kittitas returns senior hitter Anna Robertson and setter Tory Coates. Junior wise on the team will be hitter Allison McCune, setter Amelia Mohn, hitter Jillian Provosnik, Ava Smith and Sydney Lael. Kittitas will have one sophomore in Courtney Coates.

Kittitas lost four seniors last season (Madigan Webster, Lainey Allemand, Payton Hyatt and Hayley Stephens).

Robertson spoke highly of the three seniors he’ll have for 2019.

“My expectation for them is that they’ll be great leaders and be able to handle some of that pressure,” he said.

DeKoning, who competes with the Central Region United Volleyball Club, verbally committed to George Fox this summer. She’s been a catalyst for Kittitas over the past couple of seasons.

“She’s a year-round player. She plays at a real high level,” Robertson said. “A lot of offense will go through her. But she’s got a great personality for it, she doesn’t mind the pressure, she wants it.”

Kittitas faces tough competition in the EWAC with Walla Walla Valley Academy, which finished first in the EWAC with an 8-0 record in 2018, and Tri-Cities Prep, which finished with a 7-1 mark.

Kittitas lost all three matches to WWVA.

To get back to the 2B state tournament, it’s going to start with league play.

“Tri-Cities Prep and Walla Walla Valley Academy are the main competition all the time to get to state,” Robertson said.

Kittitas is accentuating the importance of an EWAC district title.

“We really want to win districts this year,” DeKoning said. “Because it’s been really tough for us in the past years. That’s something we’re really going to stress this year.”

Kittitas will head to Ephrata High School for an 8 a.m. match this Saturday.

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