Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Braves Sports, April 11, 2012

The All-Star quality play of La Conner High volleyball standouts Emily Anderson (15) and Priscilla Ponce-Venegas (31) resulted in their selection to the recent 1B/2B All-State Volleyball match, where La Conner's Suzanne Marble (back row, right) was on the coaching staff. The La Conner contingent played a key role as its All-State team won in straight sets.
Braves volleyball enjoys net gains in off-season
By Bill Reynolds
It's no secret La Conner High boasts one of the top volleyball programs in the state.
And, just in case the word hasn't gotten completely out, the play of two La Conner netters at the recent 1B/2B All-State Volleyball match in Fife spoke volumes of the Lady Braves' repeated success.
La Conner seniors Emily Anderson and Priscilla Ponce-Venegas played key roles in a three-set sweep for an All-Star squad that also featured Darrington's Jessica Brooks and Jill Goldman and a half-dozen Eastern Washington standouts.
Anderson, Ponce-Venegas and their All-State teammates posted a 25-21, 26-24, 25-18 triumph.
They fought back from an early 9-2 deficit in the opening set, finishing with a 23-12 run that set the tone for the rest of the match.
"We were down in the first set and came back to win it, and that took the pressure off of us and we were able to relax," said veteran La Conner mentor Suzanne Marble, who has guided the Lady Braves to multiple State titles, and was tabbed as an All-State coach.
Anderson and Ponce-Venegas had much to do with the comeback, Marble said.
"I was really pleased with the way the girls played having had only one two-hour practice," said Marble. "I was so proud of the way Priscilla and Emily represented
 La Conner. They really played fantastic and were a huge part of our success." 
The entire squad meshed well.
"Playing with the other players was one of the best experiences I've had," said Ponce-Venegas, who hopes to enroll this fall at either Gonzaga or Eastern Washington University.
"I seriously had the most amazing team ever," she said. "We were all so supportive and we played like a team despite only practicing a couple hours before the actual match.
"The whole time was awesome," Ponce-Venegas stressed. "The fact that I can say my All-State teammates are now my friends is amazing."
Anderson had much the same feeling afterward.
"I'm really glad I was able to participate in the experience," she said. "It's definitely something I will always remember."
Anderson singled out Ponce-Venegas and Darrington's Goldman, a skilled libero, as favorite All-State teammates.
"Priscilla and I were on the same team and won all our games," said Anderson. "And it was super fun playing with Jill Goldman. She was amazing."
Anderson, who next year plans to play volleyball and run track at Whitworth University, in Spokane, was amazing herself – just mustering the strength to play such a highly competitive match on the heels of a bout with walking pneumonia.
But the rigors of playing at a championship level for La Conner High, said Ponce-Venegas, more than prepared her and Anderson for the All-State match, despite illness and "having not played volleyball in ages." 
"You can't get an experience like La Conner volleyball anywhere else," said Anderson. "You fight through the tough preseason workouts and the sweat because, in the end, it's worth it to be part of such an outstanding team."
Marble laments that Anderson and Ponce-Venegas, who in two months graduate from La Conner High, will no longer be part of that team. Still, she realizes time marches on.
They've accomplished so much in the past four years," noted Marble, "and I'm very proud of them."
Ponce-Venegas and Anderson, in turn, take pride in having been part of the La Conner volleyball tradition, and vow to carry those lessons forward.
"I learned," Ponce-Venegas said, "that when things get hard, push yourself harder. Never settle for less and always push yourself to be the best you can be."
Marble, meanwhile, knows the contributions by Ponce-Venegas and Anderson are lasting, and that their presence will continue to be felt.
"Priscilla and Emily will be missed next year," she stresses. "but I so look forward to hearing about their successes in the future."

Photo by Karla Reynolds
La Conner's Wil James works on his timing, getting in some extra cuts during a soft toss session Monday with Braves' coach Jeremiah LeSourd. La Conner was scheduled to resume league action late Tuesday with a doubleheader at Darrington.
La Conner diamond teams drawing double duty
By Bill Reynolds The La Conner High baseball and softball teams were looking to spring back into action this week after weathering a series of postponements.
Both the Braves and Lady Braves were slated to resume action late Tuesday with league twinbills at Darrington.
For the La Conner baseball team, the doubleheader at Darrington was to kick-start a stretch of five games in a week.
The Braves were able to prep for the schedule crunch with workouts late last week and on Monday.
"Practice went well," La Conner's Sean Hulbert said Monday afternoon. "Everything is getting quicker and we're getting a lot more done in the two hours we have than we were before, so I think we're ready for this week."
That view was echoed by Wil James, one of the team's top run-producers.
"I thought we had a very productive practice," said James, who got in some extra cuts Monday with Braves' coach Jeremiah LeSourd throwing batting practice.
La Conner, with the second half of its regular season looming, hopes to finish the campaign with a surge, despite not having injured pitcher Tyler Howlett available.
"It felt like we got a lot of work in today," the Brave's Taylor Swanson said Monday. "I think the pieces are starting to fall in place and we'll finish this last half of the season off strong."
There was much of the same sentiment on the Lady Braves' softball diamond, where players were getting in some conditioning after a near week-long layoff. The Lady Braves told La Conner Weekly News they expected to pick up in Darrington Tuesday where they left off last week.

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