Sequoia Pathway Pumas volleyball

Top row, from left: Abby Whiting, Destiny Margerum, Iniko Barton, Coach Moe Walker, Head Coach Lashieka Holley, Jameshia Hughes, Makayla Robison Bottom row, from left: Mylinna Cerna Mendez, Taylor Yon, Donjea Margerum, Farrah Ballou

Sequoia head volleyball coach Lashieka Holley is ready to lead her team into another great season in their new AIA division. Though the team lost five of its six starting players to graduation at the end of last season, Holley remains hopeful about the team’s odds this year.

“We’re in a rebuilding year,” Holley said. “We’re having to do a lot of basics, we have to draw it back and really retrain them or teach them the proper fundamentals. The future looks very good, but we’re in a developing season right now.”

Because Holley has a number of young players, the divisions between junior varsity and varsity are still pretty fluid.

“My varsity team is predominantly freshmen and sophomores,” Holley said. “What we’re going to try to do is give them as much experience as possible. Them being on the court is where they get that experience.”

Holley played volleyball in high school along with basketball and track and field. The all-around athlete didn’t get back into the coaching game until her daughters were in the sport themselves, and Holley saw a gap in what coaching was available at that time.

She says she has three biological children, “but I have 50 at any given moment between the volleyball team, basketball team and club team.”

She treats her student athletes like her own, and their successes on the court often become hers as well.

“Seeing the development in the kids is what really gets me excited,” said Holley. “There’s moments where if you ever attend a game, you might just see me randomly jumping up and down with excitement screaming one of their names. It’s because they did something that they’ve been working on in practice, and haven’t been successful at and now they’ve accomplished it — that brings me joy.”

As a coach, she works to empower her team and stir them to new heights. She wants them to work hard, but also understand the purpose behind every drill she puts the girls through.

Her coaching style, “depends on the mood I’m in,” she joked. “I always try to make sure I educate them on why we’re doing something and the importance of it. … I won’t put myself in a box, because how I was the last two years with the powerhouse team I had, I can’t be that way with this team.”

Though the team is working through the challenges of being green, Holley is very optimistic for the future of her athletes.

“I’m really hopeful because they’re so young, we’re gonna be able to do big things with the changes that transitions we made as a school,” said Holley. “Lots and lots of promise.”

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Katie Sawyer covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at ksawyer@pinalcentral.com.

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