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New-look Lions return to the court

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | September 15, 2023 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE – The Moses Lake Christian Academy/Covenant Christian School Lions will look much different on the court this season, having graduated a strong senior class that helped guide the team to an appearance in the 1B State Volleyball Tournament last fall.

“You’re always going to lose people, so it’s just a matter of building the program underneath,” Head Coach Dean Spurbeck said. “It’s just the next people up. Right now, they’re fairly young – which is fine. It’s just teaching, so it makes me coach. That’s the way we look at it.”

The Lions finished the 2022 season with a 17-6 record, winning in the first round of the state tournament 3-1 over Columbia Adventist before falling to Naselle, who eventually placed third in the tournament. Graduated seniors include Lorena Serrato, Makiya Kast, McKenna Meise and Kali Kast, who received first-team all-league honors as well as co-MVP for the Central Washington B League.

While senior Maria Gulenko returns for the Lions this season, who played a significant role in 2022, she’s only one of four upperclassmen on MLCA/CCS’s roster this season; she’s joined by junior Jennika Yushchuk, senior Angela Ferguson, and junior Kayla Piper. Ten of the 17 players on the MLCA/CCS roster are eighth and ninth-graders, and having some returning experience goes a long way according to Spurbeck.

“It’s good, because we’ve got a lot of young girls,” Spurbeck said. “It’s just reps, so the younger ones will get better with reps. For the older ones, just always have to be steady, do their thing and encourage.”

Encouragingly for the Lions, the youth on the roster is excited to learn what it takes to play on the varsity level. As MLCA/CCS progresses through the early weeks of the regular season, Spurbeck said it’s all about learning the positions on the floor and where to be.

“Early games is just getting comfortable, it’ll come,” Spurbeck said. “Learning your spots and where you’re supposed to go.

The Lions opened the 2023 season 0-3, falling to Sunnyside Christian, Wilson Creek and Entiat on the road. MLCA/CCS’ home opener is on Monday against Sunnyside Christian at 6:15 p.m.

“The younger girls want to learn, so that’s very nice,” Spurbeck said. “They want to play, and there’s spots there.”

MLCA/CCS Volleyball Roster

No. 1 - Vesta Koethke - 8

No. 2 - Rebecca Wiser - 8

No. 3 - Sasha Veresko - 8

No. 4 - SanTahna Ferguson - 10

No. 5 - Jennika Yushchuk - 11

No. 6 - Kady McCrae - 8

No. 7 - Amelia Shopbell - 9

No. 8 - Drew Weger - 10

No. 10 - Maria Gulenko - 12

No. 11 - Abby Stanley - 9

No. 12 - Angela Ferguson - 12

No. 13 - Kayla Piper - 11

No. 14 - Jade Maygren - 8

No. 16 - Lilly Johnson - 10

No. 18 - Maisy Herrin - 8

No. 31 - Avalyn Bishop - 8

No. 32 - Elisa Serrato - 8

MLCA/CCS Volleyball Schedule

Sept. 5 - @ Sunnyside Christian - 3-0 loss

Sept. 12 - @ Wilson Creek - 3-0 loss

Sept. 13 - @ Entiat -

Sept. 18 - vs Sunnyside Christian - 6:15 p.m.

Sept. 19 - vs Pateros - 6:15 p.m.

Sept. 21 - @ Thorp - 6 p.m.

Sept. 26 - vs Waterville-Mansfield - 6:15 p.m.

Sept. 28 - @ Riverside Christian - 6:45 p.m.

Sept. 30 - vs Bridgeport - 2:15 p.m.

Oct. 2 - vs Cascade Christian - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 3 - vs Soap Lake - 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 5 - vs Easton - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 9 - vs Wilson Creek - 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 10 - vs Entiat - 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 12 - @ Pateros - 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 21 - @ Waterville-Mansfield - 3:30 p.m.

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IAN BIVONA/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Moses Lake Christian Academy/Covenant Christian School eighth-grader Rebecca Wiser serves the ball against Wilson Creek on Tuesday.

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IAN BIVONA/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Moses Lake Christian Academy/Covenant Christian School senior Maria Gulenko, right, sophomore SanTahna Ferguson, center, and sophomore Lilly Johnson, left, await an incoming Wilson Creek serve.

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IAN BIVONA/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Moses Lake Christian Academy/Covenant Christian School players celebrate after a point in a game against Wilson Creek on Tuesday.