It’s been a difficult season for Renton High School volleyball so far this year, and this time the Tyee Titans came into Renton and took the match 3-1 against the Redhawks.
“Girls were going in for different girls, playing positions they didn’t normally play. That was the one thing I was glad about, despite not playing certain positions, they all went in there and continued to try,” said Head Coach Lorna Sailiai.
The season has just not gone the way of Renton. Its three match wins this season are Highline (3-1) and Cleveland twice (3-1, 3-2).
It’s a learning experience for these girls under Coach Sailiai, and learning to play with confidence has been tough for the Redhawks. Mentally it has been hard for Coach Sailiai to get the girls on the right track, and even if results aren’t coming, improvements are being made.
“This season they are understanding the importance of (having) a mentality. It doesn’t matter what Renton volleyball looked like prior to them, it doesn’t matter what last year looked like. Despite having the ability, actual skill and capability to compete, they’re already defeated in their brains,” said Sailiai.
Against Tyee, Renton got out to a great start. Of the first 11 points, 10 of them went to Renton. Full credit to the Titans as they battled their way back. Tyee didn’t win the first set, but made Renton work for it, and the Redhawks took set one 25-19. The difference in the set was the girls talking to one another.
“The communication (stood out). The communication was on point. This is a game you have to play like that. You cannot play silently,” Sailiai said.
The next three sets won Tyee the match. Set two was all knotted up at 12-12, then the Titans won the next three points and never looked back. The second set final score was 25-21, with five match points in a row to get close to the Titans.
“The second you stop communicating, nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody knows who is going for what. That’s kind of where we fell short,” Sailiai said.
Renton got off to a great start again in the third leading 7-3, but Tyee eventually got even against the Redhawks, 9-9. Tyee went on a huge run, winning eight of the next 10 points and having a 17-11 lead. The third set concluded with the Titans winning 25-17 and needing just one more set for victory.
Seemingly in the third set, Renton was a bit fatigued. They were down 8-2, but managed to find a spark. Midway through the set, Renton got to within two at 9-11, but that was the closest the Redhawks would get to the Titans. Tyee closed out the match in set four by their largest margin of the night, 25-14.
Renton has three games remaining in the season. It’s been a difficult season, but mentally the girls just have to believe. One thing is for certain — their coach does.
“I do think that they are starting to come together… It’s taking them longer than they should to understand that they can actually do this. That’s the frustrating thing as a coach is I see them improving every day. But they don’t believe it,” Sailiai said.
On days where the Redhawks practice, the mentality is there. But when the clock strikes game time, something changes.
“Our practices are so much better. Then they see the other team and they crumble mentally. I can’t teach heart, I can’t teach grit, I can’t teach determination. I can give you the skills, but you have to go out there and implement it. That’s been our biggest downfall,” said Sailiai.
That’s a type of candor and honesty that many coaches are nervous to share with media, but coach Sailiai has a lot of passion and love for the Redhawks program. The Redhawks have three games remaining this season, two of them are against the top two teams in the league. The other? Crosstown rival Lindbergh on Oct. 19 on the road.