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2013 is poised to be a wild, exciting volleyball season

With two new coaches and high expectations, all four local squads are looking to make waves this fall


With four teams, volleyball is the most represented sport in the Newberg area during the fall season and there’s a lot excitement brewing around each squad heading into the 2013 campaign.

Newberg head coach McKenzie Upchurch appears to have revitalized the program at Newberg High School, where she previously coached before stepping away for career reasons three years ago.

She will have the luxury of six returning letter winners from a year ago, led by senior Maya Adams and sophomore Gabi Aihara, who had a stellar freshman campaign. Upchurch will also benefit from the return of three former players – Emmie Schmidt, Alenka Berales and Taylor Burger – who played other sports over the past year or two.by: SETH GORDON - Casco League battle – Returning varsity player Lana Friedrich will help C.S. Lewis Academy transition under new head coach Vince Swagerty, who said he believes the Watchmen have a shot at making the district tournament in what will be a deep Casco League this fall.

Upchurch took several veterans to a summer team camp where they installed a new defensive transitioning system, which she expects will help the Tigers, who open against McMinnville at home Tuesday, to be quick and explosive.

“So far the girls have bought into everything I’ve asked them to do,” Upchurch said. “I’m very pleased by that.”

St. Paul

St. Paul lost Natalie Stone and Sarah McKay from last year’s team that placed third in 1A, but so many younger players gained experience last year that head coach Lesli Hiller will field her deepest team ever with as many as 10 players ready to be part of the regular rotation.

Senior middle blocker Delany Sump and sophomore defensive specialist Cameron Stone were both named to the all-state team a year ago and will help anchor the defense. Sara Pierson will also play in the middle and is one of six seniors on the squad, along with back row player Carolina Ruvalcaba, outside hitter Madison Caldwell, Sump, outside hitter Jessica Wilmes, and Kennedy Smith, who will share setting duties with junior Remy Brentano.

“This is a solid group of seniors and I think that makes a difference because there’s a lot more maturity on the court,” Lesli Hiller said. “We were down to two seniors on the court last year and this year there could be as many as six.”

The Bucks will open the season Friday at Dufur and will open league play Sept. 3 at Veritas, which also lost some key contributors but has seen players seamlessly transition in to fill the gaps.

Veritas

In addition to graduating two players, the Vanguard had two other starters transfer.

Perhaps the team’s best hitter a year ago, Natalie Anderson, has moved to setter, which head coach Rachel Schippers believes will lead to both a faster offense and more consistent hitting from players like Brianna Stoppa, Mimi Danese, Lydia Hall, Tess Johnson and Karly Charbonneau.

“She is the best setter our program has ever seen,” Schippers said. “I didn’t use her as a setter last year because we had Madi (Crabtree) who could do the job and Natalie is one of those girls at the 1A level that I can put anywhere and she’ll shine.”

Veritas could find itself in a dog fight to return to the district tournament as the Casco League appears to be as deep as ever with Country Christian, Willamette Valley Christian and a rejuvenated C.S. Lewis Academy all fighting for the final state playoff spot annually left behind by league powers St. Paul and Perrydale.

C.S. Lewis

Boys basketball coach Vince Swagerty has taken over the Watchmen program, which is welcoming back talismanic middle blocker Mikaela Raudsepp, who sat out last year to rehab an injury.

Raudsepp will benefit from a supporting cast that gained a lot of experience in her absence last year, led by Lana Friedrich and sisters Hannah and Hope Schmeltzer.

“We’re just a different ball club with her back on the court and not just because of her skill set,” Swagerty said of Raudsepp. “It’s because of her enthusiasm, leadership, energy, love and passion for the game. She is a true teammate; she makes everybody around her better.”

CSLA will open the season Sept. 10 at Falls City.



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