It’s a new day for the Cheney High volleyball team as Heather Zorrozua takes over as head coach, replacing Courtney Webb, for the 2015 season.
Cheney had a rough start in their 2014 campaign, going 2-6 in their first eight matches. Their momentum shifted later in the season as they won four of their last five matches to finish 6-6 in the Great Northern League, 7-8 overall.
Zorrozua, a native of Sonora, Calif., played high school and club volleyball before accepting a scholarship to play at Gonzaga in 2004. In her first year with the Bulldogs, she was a defensive specialist, then promoted to the team’s starting setter in her sophomore season. She was the team captain in 2006 and 2007.
“I come from a volleyball family,” Zorrozua said. “My father coaches at Clark College, my sisters played college volleyball. My mother is an active Pac 12 volleyball official. Volleyball is a big thing in our family.”
After graduating from Gonzaga with her bachelors degree, Zorrozua worked in mental health therapy before going to Eastern Washington University to get her masters in social work. She currently works in the Cheney School District as a students connection counselor.
Prior to accepting the coaching job at Cheney High School, Zorrozua coached the Cheney Middle School’s seventh-grade volleyball team and Spokane Storm and Spokane Sky club volleyball teams.
This year’s team has four returning varsity players including sophomore Peyton Stark, who will transition into the team’s setter, Riley Pease and Taylor Gould, who both earned All GNL second-team honors last season. KD Skillingstad, who played on JV last year, will move up to varsity and play in the middle. Zorrozua said there is a healthy competition within the team to see who makes the starting lineup leading up to each match.
“It’s going to be a battle every week,” Zorrozua said. “It’s going to be about who works hard and who is ready to practice. Athletes are going to work hard to have those starting spots.”
Zorrozua said there are several athletes who can play in multiple positions. She wants ther team to focus on overall communication as well as building a solid defense. In addition to helping athletes sharpen their basic skills, Zorrozua is also working with them on strategy.
“We want to get them talking and trusting each other,” Zorrozua said. “To trust each other and not question when someone makes a play, or whether or not they’ll follow through on a play.”
Assisting Zorrozua are assistant coaches Haliaka Burningham, Amanda McKinney, Lauren Simmons and Kelsey Julian. Zorrozua also hired April Stark, who organizes the Pacific Northwest Qualifier volleyball tournament, as a mentor.
“She has a lot of experience in volleyball and also played at EWU,” Zorrozua said. “I’m excited for these coaches to help develop the younger players.”
Cheney began their season at the Lakeland Jamboree, Sept. 9. They begin Great Northern League play tonight (Sept. 10) against East Valley, then travel to North Idaho to compete in the Lakeland Invite, Sept. 12. They return home, Sept. 15 to host Clarkston.
Like last year, Cheney will play GNL opponents three times this season. Although Zorrozua is new to the GNL landscape and does not quite know the competition, she knows that her team can play anyone on the court.
“It’s every coach’s hope to win the league championship and I don’t see why we can’t do that,” Zorrozua said. “We can be the team that everyone is fearful to play. We’re ready to battle.”