Irena Korolenko is one of a handful of returners for Seattle U in 2022-23. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Pair of Posts Look to Help Redhawks Soar Up WAC Standings

There’s no doubt that the past four seasons have been a tough stretch for the Seattle U women’s basketball team. Since winning the WAC tournament champions and earning an NCAA tournament bid in 2018, the Redhawks have not had a winning record.

Following that run to a WAC title, Seattle U won three games the following season. Yes, three games. In 2021-22, Seattle U had 11 wins. So, it’s just been a huge struggle.

The Redhawks have posted back-to-back campaigns of six wins. And in back-to-back seasons, lost in the first round of the WAC tournament.

In 2022-2023, Redhawks coach Suzy Barcomb welcomes eight newcomers. The newcomers, along with a group of returners, have something to prove as they try to climb the standings after finishing in a 3-way tie for 10th in 2021-22.

In a recent podcast episode, Barcomb mentioned the importance of having good post players. And, in 2022-23, Barcomb and the Redhawks have a pair of post players who will have an immediate impact.

Keep your eyes on this key newcomer and key returner once the calendar hits November.

Newcomer to Watch: 

Kari Kyrkjebo 6-2 Soph F (transfer from UC Riverside)

Seattle has been know for their ability to get size in the Pacific Northwest. Kyrkjebo comes with not only a year of collegiate experience at UCR but international experience in the Norwegian system. She played on youth national teams at the 15U, 16U and 18U levels and also had time on the Norwegian National Team.

Kyrkjebo also brings professional experience with Midbyten of the Norway Elite Women’s Basketball League to Seattle.

At UCR, she made 16 starts as a freshman in 2020-21, recording five or more rebounds nine times and logging 30 or more minutes five times. She scored 12 points and hit a trio of 3-pointers in a win against USC on January 17, 2021. 

Returner to Watch: 

Irena Korolenko 6-0 Junior F Redmond, WA

Korolenko is one of the veterans Suzy Barcomb is counting on to lead a youth movement. It is this leadership that will that will hopefully result in the Redhawks making a move up the WAC standings in 2022-23. She averaged 5.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game in 2021-22. Her best outing was against UTRGV on February 10. Korolenko hit a trio of 3-pointers en route to 13 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes of play.

The shooting percentage will have to improve for Korolenko if the Redhawks are to have success. Korolenko shot just 37 percent from the field in 2021-22. So, considering Seattle U lost seven of its top eight scorers from 2022-23, Korolenko has to be the one to step up and give the Redhawks that scoring presence.

Barcomb and staff will get a really early look at how this group meshes together as they are about to embark on a European trip to Greece where they’ll play three Greek professional teams.

Look for this pair to be part of a Redhawks resurgence in 2022-23.

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About the author

Derryl Trujillo

Derryl Trujillo is a Southern California based sportswriter who won the 2019 Inland Empire Baseball Coaches Association's Supporter of the Year award. He joined the WAC Hoops Digest staff in 2020 and also covers local sports for Inland Sports and the Valley News. Before transitioning to media Derryl was a high school, collegiate and club volleyball official along with serving as a high school basketball scorekeeper for ten years.

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