Every other week during this COVID-shortened season, we’ll talk some Oregon high school volleyball. This is the place!
COVID-19 cheeses off Tillamook
Tillamook traveled to two-time reigning 4A champion Valley Catholic on Tuesday. Both teams gave valiant efforts (one with a capital “V”). Tillamook pushed VC to deuce in the first two sets before tiring in the third to suffer the sweep.
The Cheesemakers fell to 3-2 on the year, with both losses to the Valiants. But even a loss is a victory for LaVonne Rawe’s team given what it went through.
Like so many other Oregon schools, Tillamook prepared, for a fall season that never came and a Season 2 season that was in question, thru Zoom meetings, classroom assignments and two different apps it used for workouts and mental mindset trainings. The coaches handed out balls for home practice and players sometimes got reps outside on the walls of THS in the dark.
It’s no fun playing the waiting game, especially when the probability of actually playing, because of COVID-19, was always so tenuous.
Finally, teams playing indoors got the go-ahead to start practicing. Rawe and her crew were so excited! THS volleyball started with Season 2 team selections.
“In less than an hour, we got the notification that one of our athletes tested positive,” Rawe explained. “We had been SO diligent with testing, distancing, cleaning every single ball, poles, door handles, you name it. It broke the hearts of so many kids. The pod that was affected was an open gym group of 24. This also had touched some of the kids in other sports, hindering them from starting their season.”
Just like that, Tillamook was back to square one. Rawe was worried about what the required quarantine would do to the wellbeing of her players.
“We had a few kids that struggled severely with being out of school, so volleyball was their saving grace,” she said. “I facetimed each and every kid to give them the scoop, some assignments, competitive chat groups...”
The Cheesemakers got back on the court on March 11 and lost in a sweep to Valley Catholic. Since then, they’d put three consecutive wins together before losing again to VC last night.
“Our focus has nothing to do with wins this season (although we have only lost to Valley),” Rawe said. “I can tell you we are just grateful to play at all. We are putting everything we have into being grateful and directing all our attention on ‘Perfect Effort.’ And we are rocking it! Such an amazing group of kids, the team is really bonded and supportive of each other. When you take out all the pressures of the fans, who we are playing, circumstances and day-to-day schedule changes...nothing else matters except giving all you have for each other and playing for the sheer joy of volleyball.”
The season culminates
After this week finishes up, volleyball this school year will have just one more week before the season is in the books. Originally conceived as a “culminating week” in which the OSAA might conduct large-scale championship-type events, that week was returned to the schools before the season began. According to OSAA Assistant Commissioner KT Emerson, some schools are using the extra week to play more matches, while others are hosting regional or league events.
In 6A, it appears that top schools are planning on playing one another during the week, although without the structure of a tournament. West Linn (9-0) is playing Central Catholic (10-0) and Jesuit (9-0). Jesuit has Central, West Linn and Canby.
In Southern Oregon, an eight-team culminating tournament will take place Friday and Saturday.
Powder Valley, with five senior returnees, thought this was its year to capture the 1A title. With that dashed, the 7-0 Badgers built a schedule that included top 2A, 3A and 4A teams to challenge them. They play 4A Baker today and undefeated 1A power Damascus Christian on Saturday. Later next week, Powder Valley will host a culminating event with as many of the top eight schools as possible in the 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A classifications.
Speaking of 4A, it has the most ambitious culminating week plan. Marshfield AD Greg Mulkey told us about it:
“For all team sports except football, the six leagues will submit their league champion and second place team to the 4A ranking committees for Volleyball and Boys and Girls Soccer. Each league champion will automatically be ranked in a bracket of eight along with two 2nd place teams. The league champions will be seeded 1-6 based on the ranking committees’ decision. The six 2nd place teams will be ranked 7-12 with the top two being seeded in the 7th and 8th spots of the bracket. The four remaining 2nd place teams will be alternates in case one or more of the teams are forced to back out of the bracket play.”
If it comes together as planned, Valley Catholic and Tillamook could meet again before the season is over…
Can’t be beat, part II!
Two weeks ago, there were 40 girls volleyball teams in Oregon that had yet to lose. With Gaston falling to Vernonia in five last night, that number is down to 22. Seven of the undefeated teams are in 6A and six are in 1A. Most of the unbeatens have played 7-10 matches. Jordan Valley is 2-0. Alsea won yesterday to move to 5-0. And then there’s North Bend. The 5A school sits at 4-0 according to the scoreboard OSAA.org while having seven other matches canceled.
“Covid has definitely made for an interesting, and somewhat stressful, season,” said coach Summer Sawyer. “The schools in our league, specifically the Eugene schools, would not travel here to play us, possibly because we were in extreme risk. As other counties dropped out of extreme risk, our county stayed in extreme, preventing us from traveling or hosting.”
North Bend AD Mike Forrester knew that the school’s volleyball team was getting shortchanged, so he pulled together a schedule similar to what 4A Marshfield was playing. The Bulldogs have had to play smaller schools just to get on the court.
“Our team is solid,” Sawyer said. “I'm excited to see some larger schools this upcoming week and weekend. We actually have a 5A matchup Monday at Willamette and I'm excited to see how we match up to a larger school.”
Bend sits at 5-1 going into its match today versus Mountain View. The Lava Bears haven’t played since March 18, a span of 13 days. COVID? Nope. Spring break…Jesuit lost a set to Sunset earlier in the season. Not on Monday though, The reigning 6A champs beat the Apollos, 25-14, 25-14, 25-9. Tough serving (Peyton Griffin and Hannah Nguyen each had three aces), strong defense (Alison Buchholz, Maisie Alexander and Nguyen teamed for 30 digs) and balanced offense, led by Amanda Henry’s eight kills, helped the Crusaders dominate a tough opponent…
…4A Molalla had its four-match winning streak snapped last night in a five-set loss to North Marion. Molalla reached the post-season in 2019 for the first time in 17 years. “I only have three seniors this year, so hopefully we can keep rolling into next year with continued success,” head coach Lauree Nelzen said…1A Camas Valley started with 14 players last fall but is now down to eight. Over the past two weeks, the team has had to shuffle the lineup while enduring very limited practice time. “Our team is down to two seniors—Hailey Holmgren and Brooklyn Wolfe—who have led us in come-from-behind wins (a huge mental feat for us), through long, five-set matches, and who have fueled our enthusiasm and unity,” said Hornets coach Tresta Payne. “The whole team deserves a shout out for persevering, and our seniors will be greatly missed.”
Jumping 10-feet on approach remains a lofty goal for most volleyball players. If you get enough air to touch a regulation basketball rim, you have the ability to hit over blockers and pick your own spots. That makes you a very dangerous scorer on the court!
In this space, we will recognize those Oregonians who have achieved that lofty mark. We will add to it in each Volleyball Notebook as coaches tell us about the players who have reached rare air. Here’s where we stand currently in the 10-Foot Club:
Emily Bourne, 6-0 Sr. OH, Santiam Christian
Sophia Gregoire-Salagean, 6-2 Soph. OH, Newberg
Harper Justema, 6-2 Sr. MB, Summit
Clarissa Klein, 6-1 Sr. OH, Wilsonville
Audra Wilmes, 6-2 Sr. OH, West Linn
If you are a HS coach and want to add someone to the list, by all means email me, [email protected], put “10-foot club” in the subject line and provide the info in the manner shown above.
Since the last Notebook, I have received several emails stating that my criteria for being recognized as a “smarty-pants” volleyball player – a super high SAT or ACT score – was not realistic given that, during the pandemic, very few, if any, took the test. Said one person who emailed: “It isn't required for most schools anymore, and wasn't even available to take in 2020 in Oregon.”
I have, therefore, pivoted. To be recognized here, players need to have an unweighted GPA of 3.9 or better or a weighted GPA above 4.0. Here are the Mensa nominees we received this time around. We will ask one more time in a final Notebook in two weeks.
Erika Adams, 5-10 Jr. MB, Elgin
Izzy Armstrong, 5-9 Sr. OH, Bend
Stella Barber, 5-10 Jr. MB/RS, Newport
Megan Bushnell, 5-10 Sr. S, Bend
Maisie Davenport, 5-7 Jr. MB, Riddle
Hannah Driebergen, 5-8 Sr. OH/MB, Newport
Kaelin Evans, 5-8 Sr. MB, Elgin
Ayrica Hansen, 5-10 Jr. MB, Rogue River
Maddison Harvey, 5-8 Sr. OH, Elgin
Madison Hold, 5-0 Sr. S, Riddle
Anna Howard, 5-6 Jr. DS, Rogue River
M'Kenzie Kirchner, 5-8 Sr. S, Newport
Paige Knight, 5-0 Sr. libero, Riddle
Carlee Murray, 5-5 Jr. Libero/OH, Newport
Savanna Stillwagner, 5-1 Sr. DS, Rogue River
Any volleyball coach may add someone to the list by emailing [email protected], putting “Mensa” in the subject line and providing information in the manner shown above.
In this space, we list those players, in the current senior class and younger, who have signed National Letters of Intent or have made a commitment to attend a college or university of their choice. Congrats! I have two currently playing college sports. It can be so demanding but at the same time is so rewarding.
Here’s who we have so far. We will add to this list in subsequent notebooks as we receive notifications.
Teja Abbott, 5-9 Sr. RS, Sweet Home -- Bushnell University (Beach volleyball)
Izzy Armstrong, 5-9 Sr. OH, Bend – Slippery Rock University
Brooklyn Bevacqua, 5-10 Jr. S, West Linn – San Diego Christian
Emily Bourne, 6-0 Sr. OH, Santiam Christian – Oregon State
Alison Buchholz, 5-9 Sr. S/RS, Jesuit -- Washington and Lee
Megan Bushnell, 5-10 Sr. S, Bend – Fairleigh Dickinson University
Makenna Collins, 5-4 Sr. libero, Irrigon – Eastern Washington University
Brooklynn Dechent, 5-10 Sr. MB, Ridgeview – Bushnell University
Maddy Dowdall, 6-0 Sr. OH/MB, Jesuit – Chapman University
Caitlin Gay, 5-7 Sr. OH/libero, Canby – Univ. of Idaho
Brynna Geibel, 5-8 Sr. OH, Newberg – Cleveland State University
Katie Graham 6-0 Sr. MB - Horizon Christian Tualatin - Simpson University
Peyton Griffin, 6-0 Sr. S/RS, Jesuit – Cal State East Bay
Bailee Hartsook, 5-11 Sr. OH, Sweet Home – Western Oregon University
Ally Henry, 5-4 Sr. libero, Ridgeview – Western Oregon University
Amanda Henry, 5-11 Sr. OH, Jesuit -- Trinity University (TX)
Savannah Hutchins, 5-5 Sr. S, Sweet Home -- Linn Benton Community College
Makenah Jackson, 6-1 Sr. MB, Central Catholic – Univ. of Idaho
Harper Justema, 6-2 Sr. MB, Summit – Columbia University
Clarissa Klein, 6-1 Sr. OH/RS, Wilsonville – Saint Mary’s University
Maddie Klopcic, 6-1 Sr. MB, Valley Catholic -- University of Puget Sound
Matty Ladd, 6-0 Sr. OH/MB, Cottage Grove – Carroll College
Mackenzie Leith, 5-9 Sr. OH, Mountainside – Univ. of Puget Sound
Sydney Marshall, 5-10 Sr. RS/MB, West Linn – Concordia-Irvine (Beach volleyball)
Daley McClellan, 6-0 Sr. OH/DS, Canby – Univ. of Oregon
Josie Nealon, 5-0 Sr. libero/DS -- Central Linn -- Chemeketa Community College
Shelbey Nichol, 5-11 Sr. MB, Sweet Home -- Linn Benton Community College
Hannah Ramage, 5-6 Sr. libero, Bend – Eastern Oregon University
Ainslie Ridgway, 6-1 Sr. OH, McMinnville – Corban University
Ellie Rush, 5-5 Sr. S, Sisters -- Valley City State University
Jadah Schmidtke, 6-1 Sr. MB, South Albany – Corban University
Sophie Scott, 6-3 Jr. MB, Catlin Gabel – Cal Berkeley
Jazmine Smith, 5-10 Sr. MB/OH, McMinnville – Montana Western
Lily Snook, 5-7 Sr. libero, West Linn – Portland State
Anessa Stotts, 5-6 Sr. OH/DS, Sisters -- Bushnell University (Beach volleyball)
Emily Warmenhoven, 5-11 Jr. OH, West Linn – Belmont University
Audra Wilmes, 6-2 Sr. OH, West Linn – Univ. of Washington
Sydney Wilson, 5-8 Sr. OH, Heppner -- Walla Walla Community College
Graci Zanona, 5-4 Sr. libero/DS, Sweet Home -- Linn Benton Community College