There’s a process when someone enters a high school volleyball program as a freshman. They learn the ropes and improve over the years, climbing the ranks and gaining valuable experience before making their way onto the varsity squad.

That is unless you’re someone like Devyn Oestreich and Madison Nichols, who simply stepped out onto the court and made a major impact from the get go, helping the Capital Cougars to unparalleled success over the last four years.

“It is very, very rare to have any freshman fill a spot on a varsity team,” Capital Coach Katie Turcotte said. “let alone two freshmen that immediately earn a starting position and find themselves winning a state championship.”

But that’s exactly what Oestreich and Nichols did.

Capital seniors Madison Nichols (No. 5) and Devyn Oestreich (No. 6) helped the Cougars place three times at the Class 3A state tournament, including starting on Capital’s 2017 state title squad. Photo credit: Tim Rogers

For four years the duo dominated and fittingly, they put the finishing touches on their incredible high school careers by leading the Cougars to their second undefeated regular season over the last three years to add yet another accomplishment to their already spectacular resumes.

“Devyn and Madison are extremely gifted players who have grown up in volleyball families,” Turcotte said about her star players. “They came in with a tremendous amount of knowledge about the game itself and a ton of experience, as well as natural skills and abilities. It was a blessing to have them in the program.”

In addition to going a perfect 9-0 during their shortened senior season, Oestreich and Nichols powered Capital to a combined record of 70-4 over the last four years, dropping just two regular season matches during that span. They won four conference titles, captured four district championships and registered three consecutive top 3 finishes at the Class 3A state tournament, highlighted by their state title triumph in 2017.

In short, few pairs have been as successful in recent years as the Oestreich/Nichols tandem.

Devyn Oestreich registers a kill during the Cougars victory over Olympia. Photo credit: Tim Rogers

“Madison and Devyn greatly elevate the level of play around them,” Turcotte said. “They bring energy, spunk, a few dance moves and fun to practice and games. They are both the total package: smart, funny, team first, driven and skilled players. The other players in our program can look to them and see what it means to put in the hard work and have the mentality it takes to be a great player and an even better teammate.”

Oestreich and Nichols’ decade-long playing relationship, which started in the club ranks as 7 year olds, officially came to an end during a season-ending 3-0 win over Timberline, one of seven sweeps on the year for the Cougars. And while this unusual season didn’t end with the usual hoisting of a state tournament trophy, it did allow the two one final year together as teammates.

“There was definitely a time when I believed that our season was going to be canceled because of the restrictions in our district and everyone wanting to stay safe during this pandemic,” Oestreich said. “Along with Madison and I, all of our seniors this year have tried our best to make this season as fun as possible knowing it will be very short. We all are doing our best to stay positive on and off the court and are very thankful we get to play together one last time.”

Madison Nichols will play next season for the Boise State University beach volleyball team. Photo credit: Tim Rogers

The two talents will now head down different collegiate paths with Oestreich remaining indoors and playing for Western Washington University and Nichols venturing outside as a member of the Boise State University beach volleyball team.

“Western Washington is getting very lucky with Devyn. Not only is she hard working but she has passion about the sport,” Nichols said. “She puts it all in and never gives up. She radiates with positivity on and off the court, which is a great thing in a team environment.”

According to Oestreich, the Broncos are bringing in a stellar one as well in Nichols.

“Boise State is getting an amazing person,” said Oestreich, last year’s South Sound Conference player of the year. “Madison, both as a player and individual, is so fun to be around. She is very funny, loving, energetic, and a hard worker. She is always pushing herself and others around her to compete to their full potential.”

Despite having played their last match together as Cougars, the coach believes their legacy has been firmly established within the Capital program.

“The experience with Madison and Devyn has been a true joy,” Turcotte said. “It has been a blessing to have such amazing people be part of our program. They are truly top notch human beings. The last four years have absolutely been an adventure and something that will stay with me forever. These girls are forever going to be remembered in the Capital volleyball family.”

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