CTL volleyball: No surprises — Chelan, Cascade favored
The Chelan and Cascade volleyball teams will of course be favored to once again battle for the top spot in the Caribou Trail League this fall. The real drama in the league comes from the answer ...
Chelan senior Abby Phelps and Brewster senior Brette Boesel are fans of the television show “Grey’s Anatomy.” They started watching the late-night medical drama on a portable DVD player in the back seat of Boesel’s mother’s car on the way home from a volleyball tournament a few years ago. Phelps records the new episodes, watches them and tells Boesel what happened. (“She says, ‘I can’t find what channel it’s on,’ ” Phelps said.)
Two of the show’s main characters are doctors that form a close friendship during several shared years of personal and professional experiences; in one episode, one of the characters tells the other, “You’re my person,” a quirky way of saying, “You’re my best friend.”
When asked to describe her relationship with Boesel, there’s a strong chance that Phelps will refer to that particular quote.
“Brette’s my person,” Phelps said. “She’s somebody that I go to for anything and everything that I need. She’s probably my closest friend.”
Phelps and Boesel started playing volleyball together when they were in the fifth grade, on a Pateros-based club team called Confluence. Through the ensuing years they’ve competed with and against each other on various basketball and volleyball squads, and become close.
Even though they compete for rival schools, Phelps and Boesel root for each other to succeed. They know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, personalities and tendencies. They’ve had to sacrifice a tremendous amount of their free time during the past several years to attend various sporting events (last year, they were teammates on the Tri-Cities-based Columbia Juniors Volleyball Club U-18 black team), but they don’t complain about it because they get to do it together.
They’re both ecstatic, then, that they made the choice — independently from each other, both say — to play for Western Washington University next fall.
“We’ve got a good relationship,” Boesel said, “and it’s cool that we’re going to the same college together. Abby’s a goofball; she’s got a happy outlook and a good (perspective) on life. She’s content with who she is and what she’s doing. She likes having fun.”
Phelps and Boesel are “different faces of the same coin,” according to Phelps.
“We’re very similar and at the same time very different,” Phelps said. “I’m more outgoing than she is. But she’s just one of the most kind, genuine, humble, caring girls that I’ve ever met. We’re very like-minded. She understands me, probably more than anyone ever would.”
On club team road trips, Phelps and Boesel, along with their mothers (also close friends), will often room together in hotels. When the Columbia Juniors squad went to Texas in June to compete in the USA Volleyball Girl’s Junior National Championships, the two families spent a few extra days at Phelps’ uncle’s house near Dallas. “We went shopping and to a Rangers game,” Phelps said. “It was a blast to be able to see my family and have Brette there.”
Phelps and Boesel also competed in beach volleyball tournaments at Alki Beach in West Seattle last summer.
They hope to enter more beach volleyball competitions next year to sustain their competitive mentalities; every freshman volleyball player at Western Washington takes a redshirt.
“The first time we started playing, all we heard was, ‘tweet, you can’t do this,’ and, ‘tweet, you can’t do that,’ ” Phelps said. “We were like, ‘All right, we have a lot of catching up to do.’ There’s a lot of differences from (indoor) volleyball. We started the day really slow, but by the second half of the day we were playing pretty well. We ended up winning the consolation bracket both times.”
Both of them felt comfortable with their decision to make an oral commitment to Western Washington, professing a great respect for Vikings coaches Diane Flicks and James Suh, who have been at the helm for 13 years.
Western Washington currently has two other North Central Washington players, both redshirt freshmen — Arielle Turner (Cascade) and Kristina Tribley (Wenatchee).
But before they get to Bellingham, both of them want to have a strong senior campaign for their respective high school squads.
Phelps has been predominantly a setter, but this year will move to the outside hitter position.
She’s had the chance to play with several other outstanding athletes with the Goats during the past three years — most notably Jaicee Harris (now at Washington State) and Courtney Dietrich (Sacramento State). Now Phelps will assume the mantel of team leader and unquestioned best player.
“From a young age, she fell in love with volleyball, and she set a goal of playing in college,” said Chelan coach Donene Hendricks. “She had the realization that to be great, she had to put in a lot of extra time, and she’s done that. She’s very self-motivated. She’s a versatile player, and she’s got a great understanding of the game.”
“I’ve always been a very emotional player,” Phelps said. “I’m used to carrying a lot of emotional leadership, and with this younger team, that hasn’t changed. If more balls come my way, they’ll come my way, and I’ll handle it. My role will come as it comes throughout the season, and I’ll embrace that, whatever that may be.”
Boesel, a setter, leads a Bears team that is eager to prove that it’s capable of beating Chelan and Cascade — the Caribou Trail League’s two superpowers — and contend for a league title.
Like Phelps, she’s known for a long time that she wanted to pursue a college career in volleyball, even though she’s an excellent basketball player as well. (Phelps is also an all-league hoops player).
Boesel helped the Bears basketball squad to a state title last winter.
“I really focused on volleyball until the 10th grade,” Boesel said. “That’s when basketball clicked in for me; that’s when I decided that I loved basketball, too.
“But (I love volleyball because) of the experiences I’ve had with all of my (volleyball) teams, the chemistry with all of my teammates, the concept of the game. I’ve really had a great time exploring all of the different options within the game and understanding it, and getting to play with amazing girls, all of that together is what drives me.”
Marcy Boesel, Boesel’s mother and the Brewster volleyball team’s coach, said that her daughter’s volleyball game improved after Brette started to take basketball more seriously.
“What she had always lacked, in my opinion, was aggressiveness,” Marcy Boesel said. “Basketball has really developed that aggressiveness that she needs (on the volleyball court), and that’s helped her tremendously.
“Her athleticism allows her to get to a lot of balls and make plays that are difficult. Her athletic ability at the setter position gives us the stability to know that we can track down any ball.”
Phelps and Boesel may be close, but they don’t let their relationship get in the way of competing against each other, which they’ll have to do at least twice this fall; Chelan plays Brewster on Oct. 5 and Nov. 2.
Both of them will be playing to win, but they’ll also be keeping a close eye on each other. They won’t be able to help themselves; they know each other too well.
They know that competition is temporary, but a friendship can last a lifetime.
“Win, lose or draw, it is what it’s supposed to be, and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to work out,” Phelps said. “I love competing against her, though; she’s a great teammate and a great competitor. If I hit one and she digs it up, I’ll say, ‘Dang it. Nice play, Brette. I’ll get you next time.’ ”