By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Looking back on the Wildcats nationally-ranked season

The CWU women’s volleyball team finished the season with an overall record of 20-7. This secured their spot at number 22 in the nation following their season ending in a loss to California State University, San Bernardino. Many great moments occurred throughout the season including an eight-match win streak to end the regular season. 

After her third season on the team, sophomore outside hitter Scottie Ellsworth gave her outlook on some of her favorite moments of the season. “Going 4-0 in Duluth was such an amazing way to start our season,” Ellsworth said. “We were like, ‘Wow, everything is possible.’ We beat a ton of ranked teams and were kind of the underdogs coming into the tournament and were able to come out undefeated.”

Sophomore outside hitter Scottie Ellsworth. Courtesy Jacob Thompson.

While CWU started off the season on back-to-back losses, they managed to follow this with a seven-match winning streak which included all of their upset wins in the preseason tournament in Duluth. Junior defensive specialist/libero Hannah Stires spoke on what clicked for the team after those losses.

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“We were able to find our ground and figure out what our identity was after those first couple games,” Stires said. “We were underdogs so we didn’t have a lot of pressure on ourselves. I think that allowed us to play a lot more aggressive and less timid.”

Junior defensive specialist/libero Hannah Stires. Courtesy Jacob Thompson.


Both Stires and Ellsworth relayed high praise for seasoned head coach Mario Andaya who has now finished 28 seasons in this position for the CWU volleyball team. 

“Everything that he says, once you implement it, it makes dramatic differences to your game,” Ellsworth said. “If you have complete trust in him then you will 100% improve and keep growing. There is no staying stagnant, you will always be improving.”

Coach Andaya reflected on his time coaching and the learning curve that comes with it. “What stands out to me is just how different the couple generations I’ve coached is different,” head coach Andaya said. “I like to see how they thrive and things I don’t know too much about and learn from them. Even with how they communicate, it is intriguing. I’ve got to learn from that, and I think I’m getting better at it.”

Head coach Mario Andaya high-fiving junior outside hitter Kylie Thorne. Courtesy Jacob Thompson.


He also spoke about what it is like to have his daughter, fifth year setter/outside hitter, Tia Andaya on the team and the thought process that went into her coming to play for CWU. “It was a blessing,” coach Andaya said. “We talked about what if we did this and there were way more pros than what if we did not. She trusted me as a coach and kind of put the father daughter roles aside. She made a lot of highlights for us as a family and for this program, so I am super proud.” 

After a number of matches played in the SURC gym, both Ellsworth and Stires were excited to get into the new and improved Nicholson Pavilion. While the new arena has its benefits, Stires mentioned how she enjoyed being in the SURC gym because of how close the fans were and as she stated, “They got to experience the fire and emotion of the game.”

With a little under a year left before next season starts there are many things to look forward to. Not only will the Wildcats be welcoming new players onto the team, but veteran players are also set to be stepping into bigger roles. “I really want to give the keys to some of these kids who have been here for a while and see where they take it,” coach Andaya said. “We want to see what is in our big picture and see if we can accomplish it.”

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