KELLOGG — For the first time in 22 years the Kellogg volleyball team made the trip to the State Tournament in Meridian.
Unfortunately it didn’t end as they would have hoped, but for the Wildcats’ two best players, last year it just made them hungrier for more.
Juniors Cierra Brandt and Jaron Figueroa have been staples on the Wildcat varsity team for three years now and in that time they have played with some talented players, but none of those teams found the balance that was needed to get to state like this one did.
Which was due in large part to the work Brandt and Figueroa put in.
That hard work was recognized when they were both named to the Intermountain League All-League team.
Brandt made her impact from all over the court, but it was near the net in the forms of kills and blocks where she terrorized opposing teams.
Figueroa played the role of floor general, keeping balls in play and setting her teammates to score, which she did in spades.
One of the early signs of success for this squad happened early in the season when they went up to Bonners Ferry and beat the Badgers in four sets.
That road trip has been a thorn in the sides of nearly every Kellogg team, but probably the biggest for the volleyball team.
“Going up there and winning was huge for us,” Brandt said.
The Wildcats were kind of all over the place throughout the season, winning sets with dominant ease, only to slip up and give away matches they should have won.
“We definitely had some issues staying on top of teams,” Figueroa said. “We had one match where we started celebrating too early and the other team was able to get the ball back in play.”
Despite those issues though, the team never struggled internally, which made them better down the stretch.
“We had such a good time with each other this season,” Brandt said. “We didn’t have any drama and it was like being part of a family.”
First year coach Stephanie Brunner spoke highly of her dynamic duo, complimenting Brandt on her energy and Figueroa for her example.
“Cierra has an infectious energy that is impossible to avoid, she can bring our team up with one big play and the following celebration,” Brunner said. “Jaron has an unmatched work ethic and a lot of her times it’s her hard work and hustle that allows to keep the ball in play and set up our scorers.”
Every team needs a big play hype man and that is Cierra Brandt.
And hard work and surgical precision are vital to proper execution in volleyball and that is Jaron Figueroa.
For Kellogg, the sky's the limit in 2019.