We are a little more than 24 hours from the first contest of the 2023 girls volleyball season. If you’re a volleyball fan like I am, matches that count cannot come fast enough! What better way to pass the time waiting for first serve than with a volleyball notebook? Let’s get after it!
2022 in review
No. 1 team in final OSAAtoday Coaches Poll: Jesuit
State champion: Sheldon
How did Sheldon win? The Irish stunned previously-unbeaten Jesuit in four sets to win their first volleyball state title. Sheldon dropped the first set at deuce, then won three straight, including a dominating 25-15 win to clinch the championship.
Sheldon was paced by a talented senior trio: setter Beaux Bruegman, OH Gwen Fife and MB Kait Wood.
No. 1 team in final OSAAtoday Coaches Poll: Crescent Valley
State champion: Crescent Valley
How did Crescent Valley win? The favored Raiders knocked off No. 3 Bend in three sets to capture their first volleyball title. Troy Shorey’s team was powered by four sophomores, setter Kamden Mitchell, pins Isabelle Jacobson and Vivian Buford and MB Taelyn Bentley.
No. 1 team in final OSAAtoday Coaches Poll: Marshfield
State champion: Marshfield
How did Marshfield win? The young Pirates knocked off defending champion Cascade in three sets for their first volleyball title. Sophomore OH Tatum Montiel, junior RS Bridget Gould and sophomore setter Ava Ainsworth led the way.
No. 1 team in final OSAAtoday Coaches Poll: Sisters
State champion: Valley Catholic
How did Valley Catholic win? The sixth-ranked Valiants used amazing grit and unsurpassed energy to dethrone defending champion Burns in their first year back in 3A. Valley Catholic served 14 aces in the match and used a 10-2 rally in the final set to come back from a large deficit for the sweep. Sophomore MB Willa Kayfes was named Player of the Match.
No. 1 team in final OSAAtoday Coaches Poll: Salem Academy
State champion: Salem Academy
How did Salem Academy win? The Crusaders withstood a spirited Monroe rally, from two sets down, and a sensational individual performance from Dragon senior middle Bella Gamache, by scoring the final three points in Game 5, after the teams were tied at 12-12, to win their second title in a row and fourth all-time. Senior OH Aly Herber, dominant all season, again was a catalyst for Salem Academy, as was setter Lexi Herber and standout freshman hitter Emma Brewer.
No. 1 team in final OSAAtoday Coaches Poll: Damascus Christian
State champion: Damascus Christian
How did Damascus Christian win? The Eagles rallied from a two-set deficit to stun defending champion and fifth-ranked North Douglas to claim their first-ever championship in volleyball. Damascus Christian (36-0) also finished undefeated on the year, the only team in all of the OSAA to do so last fall. Three seniors led the way for Damascus Christian: S/OH Sierra Hale, S/OH Abbigayle Bailey and MB Julia Mitchell. Hale and Bailey both recorded triple-doubles in the championship match.
Can the defending champions repeat?
Oregon’s coaches seem to think so. They named four of the six 2022 victors No. 1 in the OSAAtoday Coaches Polls that were released yesterday (They can be found at this link: https://www.osaa.org/today/article/3368/view?title=2023+Pre-season+statewide+volleyball+coaches+polls)
6A Sheldon is one of the two sitting outside of the top spot. The Irish are No. 4 behind Jesuit, Nelson and Central Catholic, likely because the team graduated five starters who provided great athleticism, competitiveness and leadership. Jordan McKibben, a 5-9 senior OH, is the lone returning starter. She’ll pair on the outside with Roseburg transfer Emma Fairbairn, an impact hitter committed to BIOLA. There are four other seniors on the team, so Martine Wodke’s team will be seasoned. Defender Raegyn Miller, who won a softball title this spring, will be vying for yet another championship ring this fall. Two freshmen who could impact are Savannah McKibben, a defender who comes from a volleyball family and understands the game; and fast, athletic middle Abigail Burger.
Crescent Valley starts the season as the odds-on favorite in 5A thanks to the four standouts mentioned above plus terrific senior libero Danielle Street, the only returnee named First Team All-State a year ago. She and senior DS Addison Staab should provide the Raiders with a back row that has few peers. Sophomore OH Ashlin Lockman, a power player who puts up a big block; and the team’s passion for volleyball and humility, make it likely that CV will add a second title all-time just one year after winning its first.
Marshfield returns all of its starters save for one graduated middle, Kate Miles, a great leader. The quintet of Montiel, Gould, Ainsworth, senior libero Gracie Peach and 6-1 senior OH Paige Macduff will make the Pirates pretty imposing for a 4A school. Add junior middles Alie Clarke and Analise McCord and, with improved passing, coach Tammie Montiel thinks that Marshfield could be in position to repeat should it stay hungry enough.
Valley Catholic won 3A as a lower seed, so it may not be a surprise to see the Valiants looking up at No. 1 Sisters in the pre-season. Becky Kemper’s team graduated three impact players and leaders, including two pin hitters and a libero. They will be tough to replace. Even so, Valley will be in the mix with returning standouts Katiya Arellano, a three-year starting setter; springy junior pin Addie Emerson, who is poised for a breakout season; and a strong middle duo of Kayfes, who can hit from anywhere; and vastly improved Taina Pinheiro. Gracie Rogers, the team’s sparkplug; and sophomore Madison Sherby, a smart young player with a whip for an arm; will likely round out the starting lineup. If the team identifies a consistent libero, it could very well find itself back in the championship match come November.
Salem Academy is pre-season No. 1 in 2A, perhaps because many coaches did not know that setter Lexi Herber transferred to Western Christian. Combine that with the graduation of Oregon kills leader Aly Herber and big blocking middle Kacyn Hilley and the gap between first and everyone else has narrowed considerably. Coach Melissa Holman still has 6-1 sophomore OH Emma Brewer, one of the top six-rotation players in the nation; as well as S/RS Haley Krieger and libero Sydnie Reed, so the Crusaders will be in the mix. But the door is open, even if just a crack.
The loss of the “big 3” at 1A champion Damascus Christian makes it unlikely that the Eagles will match last year’s unbeaten record but the return of talented defenders Abigail Huspek and Lucy McAllister, along with senior OH Laelie Rasmussen; gives Emily Russau’s team a good chance against most other 1A teams out there.