Undefeated Wells Volleyball Team Has High Hopes for the Future


Laif Kvarsten (he/him), Staff Writer

Mark Mendak has high hopes for this volleyball season. The Ida B. Wells volleyball coach of seven years has coached this year’s varsity team to an 16-0 record within the Portland Interscholastic League. Their opponents include the competitive McDaniel and Lincoln programs, as well as a Grant team that Ida B. Wells was PIL co-champion with last year. 

“Have fun. Win. Host the first round of the playoffs.” According to Mendak, these are the objectives of the team, led by three captains: Zoe Mish, Carly Straub, and Eleanor Pigg. 

Mendak is proud of the strong leadership present at all levels of play. “I try to let the players lead,” he said, “People are putting in the time and effort, and it’s paying off.” 

The players lead practice and warm up before Mendak begins coaching halfway through.

Involvement has been a crucial part of this year’s success, both within the program and from the school as a whole. Participation in youth levels is especially integral to the program’s future success—five of the thirteen varsity players are seniors this year. 

“Even at the middle school level, we try to get them up to speed and feeling comfortable,” said Mendak. “They are the future of our program.” 

Junior Zoe Mish, one of the varsity captains who has been playing since she was six years old, emphasizes the importance of having fun. 

“This is a great group of girls,” Mish said. “We’re all friends on and off the court, we love to spend time together in the hallways, at lunch.” 

The coaching staff, led by Mendak, has also been crucial to the success of the program. Mish has only good things to say about Mendak.

 “I’ve known him since I was ten,” said Mish, “I don’t think words can really describe it, he’s the best coach.”

Positivity and excitement are clearly values that this team feeds off of, and one source of that is fan involvement. “I really appreciate our crowds,” said Mish. “It makes us, as a girls sport, feel more respected and makes us feel important to the school.” 

Mish, who intends to continue playing volleyball in college, is excited for both the future of Ida B. Wells volleyball, and for her own personal future in the sport. 

“I want to make sure I’m positive with myself, make sure I still love the sport, and make it fun,” said Mish. 

As league play wraps up, varsity has its sights set on the playoffs. Regardless of what happens as they move through the bracket, one thing is clear: This team has already earned its place in the annals of Ida B. Wells sports.