One last set for Kimura


Josh Luffred

Regan Dean (Linfield 14) moves to spike the ball past Madison Douglas (Whitworth 7) and Lauren Budde (Whitworth 20).

Leina Panui, Staff Writer

It was a sweet end to a great season, as the volleyball team faced a double-header weekend that was filled with wins. The Wildcats played against the Whitman Blues and the Whitworth Pirates.

The Ted Wilson Gymnasium was filled with Wildcat support as it was a celebration of a great season and the retirement of head coach Shane Kimura Friday night. Kimura has dedicated 40 years to the volleyball team; he has the longest coaching career in Linfield athletic history.

For Kimura, he is leaving a legacy of 664 wins in the past 40 years leading him to be recognize as one of the top 20 for coaching victories in the NCAA Division III. His time at Linfield head coach paid off as he brought the team to four NCAA Division III playoffs and five Northwest Conference titles.

The Wildcats first faced off against Whitman College, Friday night. It was a game of revenge because the ‘Cats loss to the Blues at the beginning of the season.

It was an easy first set, as the Blues could not keep up with the kills the Wildcats were giving. The ‘Cats took the first two sets easily, 25-20 and 25-14. Yet, the Blues came back in the third set 24-26.

“We never want to go more than three sets but a win is a win and I’m so incredibly happy that we were able to pull of that W,” junior libero Kayla Magbaleta said.

But trying to come out with a bang me a bit late in the fourth set as the Wildcats quickly came back with an easy win at 25-15. Winning the game against Whitman got the team fired up for their next match up against Whitworth, another team where the Wildcats lost to early on in the season.

“When we met together as a team in the locker room, without the coaches, we talked about how we had to play our hearts out for coach Shane because we had nothing to lose,” Magbaleta said.

The girls wanted to finish their season strong and as the next game rolled around, they wanted to dedicate it to their coach.

Whitworth’s game had the same vibe as the Whitman game, but it was a bit more emotional since it was the last game Kimura would coach. The first two sets were a back-to-back war as the Wildcats took first, 25-23, and the Pirates took the second set at 21-25. Third set was the time things needed to turn around.

“I told them that if there was a ball about to hit the ground, there sure as heck better be a body on the ground diving for it, and that’s what happened this weekend,” Magbaleta said. “Everyone was selling out for the balls and sacrificing their bodies to get there.”

Ball down, body down became affective as the Wildcats won the third set, 25-13, and took home the win in the fourth set at 27-25. This win was not only for the team, but for their loving head coach.

“Knowing that these two games were coach Shane’s last games, it was really emotional for all of us,” Magbaleta said about saying farewell to Kimura.

For Magbaleta, saying goodbye was extremely personal to her.  “Coach Shane has done nothing but support me, encourage me and guide me.” said Magbaleta.

She said the she never wanted to disappoint Kimura and have always looked up to him, not just as a coach but also a role model.

At the end of the 2017 season, the Wildcats finished off with an overall record of 11-12, 5-11 in the NW Conference.

The team’s final words to Kimura was “once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.”