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The Wilsonville volleyball team is locked-in and loaded


With a multitude of returning players, the team has high aspirations this year.

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Lexy Thompson figures to be a key cog in the Wilsonville volleyball lineup.

Despite deploying a youthful roster, first-year Wilsonville head volleyball coach Kristen Rott steered the Wildcats to a 16-6 record and a quarterfinals appearance in the 2013 state tournament.

This year, with the players and the coach a little wiser, they’re looking to break into the upper-echelon of 5A volleyball.

“They are hungry to get further in the state tournament," Rott said. "Last year was the first time and an eye-opener. Last year they wanted to get to state. This year, they want to win state."

However, when contemplating a championship-or-bust mentality, Rott tempered her expectations a tad. She hopes the team becomes one of the top three teams in the revamped Northwest Oregon Conference and one of the top three teams in state.

Time is one obvious reason to believe they will surpass last year’s effort.

The team is currently comprised of five seniors, four juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen.

“They are more mature then they were last year,” Rott said.

Rott says fans can expect the same 6-2 formation, but with a more defensive approach.

She says returning libero Skyler Matthews will play an integral role in stopping opponents from planting volleyballs on the Wildcats side of the floor.

“How well we do depends on how well she leads our defense,” Rott said.

She also hopes junior 2013 all-conference outside hitter Lexy Thompson will contribute to a stout and cohesive defense.

“Lexy Thompson is really pushing for a leadership position. Expect to see her on the court because of her strong defense and passing abilities,” Rott said.

The team is also returning all-tournament second team setter Hailey Hales, who is entering her senior season.

In addition, Rott has noticed considerable improvement from junior setter Madison Wardle.

“I think Madison has shown a ton of improvement in her vertical and her attack since last season,” Rott said.

The two freshmen, Maddy Schmitt and Olivia Blakely, may not have sat through first period yet, but Rott thinks they will add their own flavor to the team’s recipe.

“Their ball control is going to make us a better team,” she said.

However, Rott will enlist them to play both varsity and junior varsity. They’ll likely see the bulk of their playing time on JV.

The departed player they will miss most is Genna Florig, who made first team all-league last year as a sophomore middle blocker.

“Genna is now playing at Sunset for family reasons. It was a big blow,” Rott said.

However, Rott says she’s found a sophomore capable of matching Florig’s towering size.

“Sophie Bynum transferred here from Pendleton. We lost one of our tallest players and gained a tall player. She’s 6-2, strong and ready to learn,” Rott said.

Rott believes the NWOC is still one of the best conferences in Oregon despite powerhouse Sherwood moving up to 6A. She deems it so because of the addition of La Salle, a former 4A school.

“Losing Sherwood doesn’t help the strength, but La Salle is a very respectable volleyball program and makes us just as strong of a league as we’ve been in the past,” Rott said. She added: “It will be interesting to see how La Salle handles the 4A system.”

Rott thinks St. Helens, which was the toast of the league last year, is the prohibitive favorite this year.

“St. Helens is a very tough team. Everyone’s gunning for them,” she said. She added: “Liberty will be a top contender as well.”

Rott says serving and defense will be the two primary factors in determining how far into Winter the team will remain in contention.

Rott said: “Serving tough will be a key and picking up our defense. Offense wins games, defense wins championships.”

The team will participate in a jamboree on Thursday, August 21 and will play its first league game on September 2 at Liberty High School.