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La Salle Preps varsity roster is loaded with talented and experienced players

The La Salle Falcons expect to be a league and state title contender in volleyball this fall.

And they have good reason for their high expectations. They return last year’s team back pretty much intact. There were only two seniors on last year’s squad and those two players saw only limited action.

“Most of the girls are third-year varsity players,” said La Salle coach Liz Banta. “Just being upperclassmen they have a better mentality. They work hard and there is more leadership on the court....

“Our goals are to win conference and get to [the state championship at] Lane. We just need to focus, cut down on the unforced errors and play with consistent energy through an entire match....

“I definitely think we have the potential to be right up there with the best in the state.”

The Falcons return eight players who saw starting action last year: seniors Danielle Spirlin (5-10 middle blocker), Gaby Timmen (5-4 libero), Samantha Stark (5-9 right-side hitter) and Taylor Shannon (5-7 outside hitter); juniors Meghan Studdard (5-4 libero), Marlie Norman (5-8 outside hitter) and Amanda Summers (5-8 setter); and sophomore Rachel Berger (6-3 middle blocker).

Timmen and Studdard were first-team all-conference selections last year and Spirlin was named to the Tri-Valley Conference’s second all-star team.

Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are: seniors Claire Grange (right-side hitter) and Katie Buerk (right-side hitter); and juniors Kimberly Le (outside hitter), Kylie Westermeijer (outside hitter) and Allison Burns (defensive specialist).

La Salle has been impressive in early preseason, defeating Class 3A state powerhouse Valley Catholic 22-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-11 and Scappoose 25-19, 25-22 and 27-25; and giving 2012 Class 4A state finalist Astoria a run for its money, taking the Fishermen to five games in a Sept. 5 losing effort at Astoria.

“The girls played their best volleyball so far [at Astoria],” Banta said. “They kept their energy up and played really solid for 3-1/2 games. Hitting errors and untimely mistakes cost us in the end.”

Banta said she expects Madras and Estacada to be her Falcons’ toughest competition in league; and she believes Sisters, Crook County, Banks and Madras, and perhaps her Falcons, will be the top teams in the state in Class 4A.

The Falcons will see how they stack up with the Outlaws on Sept. 21, when they travel to Sisters for a tournament. They play Banks on the road this Thursday.

Tri-Valley Conferene play begins Thursday, Sept. 19, when La Salle takes on North Marion on the road.

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