The Lakewood girls’ volleyball team has always been known for its strong senior leadership, as longtime coach Mike Wadley takes care to create class after class of players that help run practices and instill a hard-nosed work ethic into younger players. This year, Lakewood has strong senior leadership once more–but also a serious youth movement, as the team will start two freshmen and two sophomores.
“We have very good senior leadership this year and that’s good, because we’re really young,” said Wadley. “Our seniors are very unselfish kids. I think the youth will come out early, and I think we’ll be really dynamic as the year goes on.”
The leadership comes courtesy of middle blocker Makayla Sorenson, the 6’1” captain of the team, as well as senior libero Alwen Pila, who is a feisty back-row player that will anchor a gritty, competitive Lakewood defense.
“We definitely have a young team this year and you have to set a good example for the younger players,” said Sorenson.
For casual fans who come to see Lakewood play, the youngsters might be the ones who grab the most attention. Sophomore Laura Williams is the team’s most talented outside hitter, and is fresh off a very successful summer with the Mizuno Long Beach club, where she helped bring her team to the national title match. Sophomore Keke Hall is the team’s other 6’1” middle alongside Sorenson, and has great instincts in the center of the net.
The two freshmen on the varsity roster are both likely starters, and both look like they could end their careers as top talents. Frosh Fatima Hall (Keke’s little sister) will be the team’s setter, and has drawn favorable comparisons from Wadley to Megan Moenoa, his former setter who went on to UCLA and who now coaches at UC Irvine. The other ninth grade phenom is Samarrah DaCoud, a 5’11” outside that’s big on athleticism and upside.
“The difference for us with the younger players is we’re deep this year,” said Wadley. “Last year we had to go with what we had, this year we have some different things we can do.”
Williams is excited for the year and to see what the team looks like once they’ve had some time to play together.
“The freshmen are really good,” she said.
Lakewood will certainly know what it’s made of by the time the season is a few weeks old. The Lancers have early matches in the Lakewood/Molten Classic that they host and the prestigious Durango Fall Classic, as well as nonleague contests against Mater Dei, Marymount, and Santa Margarita.
“We want to put them through it early so they know what to expect and so they’re ready for the big league matches and the playoffs,” said Wadley.