Though Suzanne Marble guided the La Conner volleyball team to a state title last fall, she most enjoys talking about the months leading up to the season.
That’s when the players on the relatively young Braves team — led by lone senior Matty Lagerwey — took on the challenge to get better by holding workouts and team-bonding activities including hikes and dinners.
“I saw the commitment during the summer ... the girls had high expectations for themselves,” Marble said.
For helping the Braves meet those expectations with an undefeated season and the Class 2B state title, Marble is the Skagit Valley Herald Coach of the Year.
The 26-year coach has a record of 482-93, has taken her team to nine state title matches and has won four state titles.
The Braves rolled to their most recent title, getting plenty of gaudy play during the season from players including league and state tournament MVP Lagerwey, transfer Morgan Herrera and setter Justine Benson.
But Marble is quick to emphasize that every player on the roster helped in the Braves’ stellar run.
“Everyone filled a role,” she said. “It doesn’t always have to be the captain ... no one person is more important than the next.”
That versatility helped as the Braves elbowed their way through a state tournament that included a 3-2 win in the semifinals over Tri-Cities Prep (22-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 15-10) and a 3-1 victory in the title match over Mossyrock (24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-11).
“When we got to state it was an even playing field. We couldn’t have done it without every kid,” Marble said.
Marble has helped guide the Braves to the state tournament in each of the past 23 seasons.
If next season’s group proves to be as hard-working as it has so far shown, that streak is unlikely to end.
“I have a great, committed group,” Marble said.