Volleyball trio reunited as Wildcats

Donnie Santos, Staff Reporter

Central’s women’s volleyball team recruits girls from all over the Pacific Northwest to compete in their program. Fans might not know that three of the girls on this year’s team have been playing together for years.

The trio played club volleyball for one of the top programs in this area, Central Washington Elite.

Rachel Hanses and Kaitlin Quirk, both red shirt juniors and nutrition majors, have been in Central’s volleyball program since 2011.

They were thrilled to find out this season that they would be joined by a familiar face, freshman Sarah Joffs, for the remainder of their career at Central.

SPIKE - #1 Rachel Hanses and Kaitlin Quirk celebrate a play.
CWU Athletics
SPIKE – Rachel Hanses (center) and Kaitlin Quirk (right) celebrate a play.

“We know how each other are on and off the court,” Quirk said. “We know what to expect from each other because of the times we played together when we were younger.”

Joffs joined the team late after she chose to first pursue a modeling career in New York City after high school graduation.

“I was signed to play here as a junior in high school,” Joffs said. “When I was done with New York, I decided to come back and play here at Central.”

Hanses and Joffs both attended West Valley High School in Yakima, while Quirk attended Ellensburg High School.

“I had to commute to Yakima all the time for volleyball,” Quirk said. “It was definitely worth it to play with such high- caliber teammates.”

When asked what made all three want to attend a university that was essentially in their backyard, they all agreed that “it just had the right feel.”

Hanses and Quirk are both in their fourth year at Central and have been starters since they were eligible after their red shirt season.

They have been valuable weapons for the Wildcat’s offense for the past three seasons.

The team currently can’t play Hanses due to a foot injury that sidelined her early in the season . She has been spending time in a walking boot and is expected to return to the court later this month.

Despite taking two years off, it hasn’t taken Joffs very long to get back in the swing of life as a student athlete. Teammates have commented that she is adapting to life as a Wildcat volleyball player very nicely.

Local and past coaches still make an effort to keep up with their former players. Hanses, Quirk, and Joffs have shown young players coming up through the Central Washington Elite club what it takes to not only make it to the next level after high school, but how to succeed.

The three were an integral part of one of the most recent Central Washington Elite teams to make it to nationals.

Back in Winter of 2011 they qualified for the National Tournament in Atlanta.

“It was an amazing experience, one you always dream about when you are playing competitive club volleyball” Hanses said. “You want to play against the best in the country and that’s what we did.”

All three share a goal of earning a spot in the post-season playoffs during their time at Central.

“We have made it to regionals the last two seasons,” Quirk said. “We want to be able to pass that threshold and compete for a national championship before we are done.”

The Wildcats are currently sitting with a 10-5 overall record and an impressive preseason resume under their belt. Even though only the winning team is guaranteed a spot in the regionals, the selection committee has a lot of respect for Central’s program and its strength of schedule, which was enough to get them into the tournament in 2012 and 2013.

“I can’t imagine playing anywhere else or with any other girls,” Hanses said. “We have the ability to reach our potential and possibly knock some good teams off in the postseason.”

The Wildcats have a four-game home series starting today against the Montana State-Billings Yellow Jackets at 7 p.m. in Nicholson Pavillion.