Gaynors – Dealership Alternative Coupon $25 OFF 728×90

HS Volleyball: Setting a high standard

Ridgefield sophomore setter Kohana Fukuchi leads by example on the court and in the classroom

RIDGEFIELD — She sets her standards.

She sets her goals.

She sets.

Oh, and she does not settle.

The Ridgefield Spudders knew they had a special volleyball talent when Kohana Fukuchi became the setter last season as a freshman, when the Spudders would go on to finish third at state.

Ridgefield’s Kohana Fukuchi has embraced her role as one of the captains of the Spudders volleyball team. A sophomore setter, she is proud to be on one of the best teams in the state. Photo by Paul Valencia
Ridgefield’s Kohana Fukuchi has embraced her role as one of the captains of the Spudders volleyball team. A sophomore setter, she is proud to be on one of the best teams in the state. Photo by Paul Valencia

They also learned of her drive, her dedication to academics, and her mission to uplift, encourage all those around her.

Now a sophomore, Fukuchi has been named one of the team captains for one of the best teams in Class 2A Washington.

It starts with those standards. Fukuchi always earned top marks in elementary school, the best grades in middle school, and recorded a 4.0 grade-point average as a freshman at Ridgefield.

“I proved to myself I could get a 4.0. Why do anything less?” she said. “I feel better about myself when I just give it my all. It’s useless for me if I don’t try.”

She takes that philosophy with her to the volleyball court, too.

“I have high expectations for myself. But when it comes to volleyball, we’re not perfect. When I play, I play to the best of my ability, though. When I screw up, I get upset with myself. I’m not hard on my teammates, but I’m really hard on myself.”

Kohana Fukuchi grew up around the sport of volleyball and now uses her all-around skills to help the Ridgefield Spudders. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kohana Fukuchi grew up around the sport of volleyball and now uses her all-around skills to help the Ridgefield Spudders. Photo by Mike Schultz

No, with her teammates, she is always positive, the rock. Such a calming influence, in fact, that her coach just had to make it official.

“Naturally, she just fits as a captain,” Sabrina Dobbs said, noting that when things go wrong, she can always count of Fukuchi. “She just always puts that stuff aside and is always there to support. I appreciate a girl like that. I have never seen her negative.

“She’s my volleyball spirit animal.”

Still, it took a second or two for Fukuchi to realize what had happened with the coach named her a captain, along with teammates Delaney Nicoll and Kameryn Reynolds.

“I didn’t know what to feel. I was nervous. That’s a big weight on my shoulders as a sophomore,” Fukuchi said. “But I was super excited, too, because I can be be a good leader. I’m just glad I was able to get this opportunity. It’s not just being a captain, but to have a purpose.”

For her, it means helping to organize the weekly team get-togethers and talks. It also means being there to listen to a teammate.

Kohana Fukuchi is not only a standout volleyball player but she is all aces in the classroom with a 4.0 grade-point average. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kohana Fukuchi is not only a standout volleyball player but she is all aces in the classroom with a 4.0 grade-point average. Photo by Mike Schultz

Fukuchi talks about the commitments made by every member of the team to be part of this group. They all deal with school, then practice, plus cross-fit training, and, of course, matches. They are together six days a week.

“Sometimes I can get overwhelmed,” Fukuchi said, adding that she knows she is not alone.

Together, though, they can get through trying times.

“Delaney, Kameryn, and I really want to comfort our team,” Fukuchi said. “Every single minute together counts. It’s going to get us to where we want to go, which is state.”

Fukuchi acknowledged that while performing well at state is the ultimate goal, getting to state has to be the focus.

Kohana Fukuchi describes her and her teammates as a “strong starting 13.” In other words, everyone contributes equally to the team’s success. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kohana Fukuchi describes her and her teammates as a “strong starting 13.” In other words, everyone contributes equally to the team’s success. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Spudders play in one of the toughest leagues in the state. And then the toughest district. Through the years, District 4 is full of horror stories of quality volleyball teams that did not advance.

“We have to get past district to even think about state,” Dobbs warned.

So far, though, the Spudders look to be a force. They opened the season by sweeping two Class 4A programs. And they are off to a fast start in the 2A Greater St. Helens League, winning their first four matches, including a win over rival Woodland.

They are not taking anything for granted, though.

“Every team is better,” Dobbs said, noting Columbia River, Washougal, and of course, traditional power Woodland.

That victory over the Beavers was big, but only for a night.

“Never let a win get to your head,” Fukuchi said. “That was a fast happiness. But we have to move on from that. That was awesome but we have to play them again. We were happy but we never bragged about it.”

Much of the success for a team can be attributed to its setter. Fukuchi embraces the responsibility of the position.

“You run everything. You have to talk to your passers. You have to talk to your hitters. You have to talk to everyone on the court,” she said. “You play out the play in your head before the ball is even served.”

Kohana Fukuchi, one of three captains on the team, hope to win league, district and then head to state. The Ridgefield Spudders are not taking anything for granted, though. They know they play in one of the toughest district in the state. Photo by Mike Schultz
Kohana Fukuchi, one of three captains on the team, hope to win league, district and then head to state. The Ridgefield Spudders are not taking anything for granted, though. They know they play in one of the toughest district in the state. Photo by Mike Schultz

As a captain, as a leader, she knows she is just a part of a volleyball machine.

“It really helps when you have passers and hitters like I do,” she said.

It is all the Spudders. Not the one senior on the team. Not the hitters. Not the libero. It is all of them who will determine the outcome of the season.

“We’re super competitive and push each other to be better but there is no jealousy. We’re all happy for each other about our accomplishments,” Fukuchi said. “We play as one team. Not a single one of us plays as an individual.”

The Spudders don’t even describe their roles as starting positions or reserves. There are only six on the court at once, but they are all together.

“We have a strong starting 13,” Fukuchi said.

We'd love to hear your comments!
Phoenix Technology 728×90

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

Related posts