KENNEWICK — Seven years ago, Julie Maciboba and Lizzie Law were excited to lead Kennewick's volleyball team to a .500 record and the district tournament.
After guiding the Lions to a second consecutive state tournament berth last weekend, the pair is ecstatic.
"It is awesome," said Law, Kennewick's freshman coach. "Just to experience all of this. State has never been something we were a part of. Seeing these girls do it and how much time and effort they put in, they definitely deserve it.
"I might be a little jealous, but I'll get over it."
Law and Maciboba both played at Kennewick through the 2004 season, where they helped the Lions reach .500 and advance to the district tournament for the first time since 1993.
After college careers at Lewis-Clark State College (Maciboba) and Oregon Tech (Law), the pair reunited in the Tri-Cities.
"I always figured (Maciboba) had it in her," former Kennewick volleyball coach Mary Isley said. "We ran a lot of middle school camps where we worked with younger groups, and she was always fantastic with them and was able to share her knowledge with them."
Isley, now an assistant principal at Kamiakin, coached Maciboba and Law, and was excited to hear they qualified for state last weekend.
"To see Julie excel like this as a coach is rewarding," Isley said. "To see her give back to the school she attended and played for, I'm quite proud of her. Her senior year, she was a part of success, and I'm so proud that she is carrying that and carrying it with the kids she has now.
"They got a taste of (state) last year, and that taste of success is definitely building. And she is a part of that. It is very cool."
Maciboba took over as head coach and brought in her old teammate, joining longtime Kennewick assistant Nikki Perkins and former River View head coach Katie Gaumer.
Maciboba replaced Scott Carswell this spring, inheriting a program that went to state for the first time last year.
"I think it is rewarding as a coach," Maciboba said, "but even more rewarding for the girls who were on the team last year and who are still on the team. After losing so much height and so much talent last year, after people said they couldn't do it ... I think we've earned this spot and worked really hard for it."
Maciboba and Law were some of the first Kennewick players to make that hard work and year-round play a more common practice. That's one reason Maciboba thinks the Lions are back among the state's elite for a second consecutive year.
"I think all around, the level of play in the Tri-Cities has gotten better," she said. "I think it is helping all of our schools be more competitive. I didn't play club until I was 14. Now they have (under)-12 teams."
And those types of athletes are now reaching the high school level, giving Maciboba and Law the ability to continue an upward trend in the Kennewick volleyball program.
-- Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter.com/craig_craker