Hazen volleyball welcomes new head coach with win over Renton

Highlanders take down Redhawks 3-0 in Sydney Fuller’s debut.

To open the 2023 volleyball season, the Hazen Highlanders got a win against their crosstown rivals, the Renton Redhawks, with a new face leading the team.

The Highlanders have a new head coach in Sydney Fuller, who has impressed the team so far this year.

“Sydney’s great!” said senior Sasha Marith. “I wouldn’t have known it was her first year coaching because she’s such a great coach.”

Hazen put out a dominating performance in their first game out this season. They have been doing a lot of inter-squad games coming into their first game.

“I’m really proud of how we did because we kept our energy up and played really hard. We got a lot of good stuff. It was a great first game for us,” said Marith.

Noelani Kaiwi goes for a kill in against Renton. Ben Ray/ The Reporter

Noelani Kaiwi goes for a kill in against Renton. Ben Ray/ The Reporter

Last year, Hazen had to go to game two for their first win. This year they got it right out of the gate.

“It was great. There are still things we need to work on, but it was good to see how we worked as a team and connect with everyone,” said Coach Fuller. “We had been scrimmaging so much in practice, so it was fun to play against someone that they didn’t know how to play against.”

In the first set, Hazen got out to a quick 10-4 lead over the Redhawks, which led to the overall theme of the first game for these two sides. The Highlanders outscored Renton from that point forward, 15-6, to close out the first set, winning 25-10. The Highlanders’ experience looks to give them an edge this season.

“We have a lot of maturity, seven seniors on varsity… That maturity and connection with each other (is strong) since they have played together for years,” Fuller said.

The following set was all Hazen. Renton dug themselves a huge hole, falling 12-0 on the first dozen points of the second set. The Highlanders extended the lead at one point to 19-2 before closing out Renton in set two, 25-6.

Renton’s best set was the third and final set of the match. Renton led for the second time all match, getting out to a 5-4 lead. The lead was short lived for the Redhawks. Hazen got their bearings and went on a 5-0 run to take a 9-5 lead. Hazen closed out Renton, winning the third set 25-11.

Highlanders celebrate after winning a point in the second set. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Highlanders celebrate after winning a point in the second set. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Highlander senior Sasha Marith had a great first game of the season, leading her team in two offensive categories: aces (7) and assists (11). Arisa May-Kelly led the Highlanders with 7 kills in the three sets.

“I’m really proud of her. It was great to see what she can do, and the whole team can do. But I was really impressed with her,” said Fuller.

Even though she led the team in two offensive categories, Marith still seeks out ways to improve.

“Offensive wise, hitting and stuff is kind of where we are lacking. We definitely need to work on that. Me especially,” Marith said with a laugh.

Hazen continues their rivalry series against Renton schools as they take on Lindbergh on Sept. 8. Confidence is high for the Highlanders.

“It’s super high for sure, especially to beat them in three. It’s one thing to be confident, but there are going to be better teams to play,” Fuller said.

Renton looks for their first win of the season against Highline on Sept. 12.