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Crusaders earn five first-team all-Metro selections, Szulczewski wins POY for Mavs

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Jesuit sophomore middle blocker Tess Masingale was one of five first-team All-Metro League Crusaders.

The more things change…the more they stay the same?

A year ago, the Jesuit volleyball team graduated all five of its first-team All-Metro League players including Metro Player of the Year Rose Booth. To the outside world that was a recipe for a rebuild coming into 2019.

But those clued-in to the Crusader methodology knew better. The coaches voted Jesuit first in the preseason coaches' Class 6A poll. The Crusaders, while senior-heavy in '18, still had a wealth of talented club players waiting in the wings, readying to grab the vacant court time.

Mountainside came ready. So did Sunset. But Jesuit didn't decompose.

On the contrary, the Crusaders reassembled a state championship roster and refilled its lineup with a handful of new first-team All-Metro entrants: junior setter Alison Buchholz, junior hitter/blocker Maddy Dowdall, sophomore libero Maisie Alexander and junior all-around Peyton Griffin and sophomore middle blocker Tess Masingale.

This didn't come out of the blue. Jesuit reloads every year at a high clip. Club players come to Jesuit with means of getting a private school education, playing for historic head coach Teresa Zimmerlee, honing their individual craft and eventually attracting the eyes of college coaches. But that by no means did make that their Metro and 6A state titles any less impressive. Incumbents like Buchholz were asked to do more than ever before. Newbies like Dowdall and Masingale had to assimilate to the pressure of starting, playing full-time and producing like their predecessors. Each of those high-flying hitters played huge against Central Catholic in the 6A title bout. Masingale was named MVP of the state title game. Dowdall dominated the fifth set from the left side of the net. Buchholz flew around and did it all: passing, hitting, blocking, defending.

The Crusaders scrapped through a pair of five-set wars: against West Linn in the 6A semis where Jesuit overcame an 11-3 deficit in the fifth game and again versus Central. That type of experience is invaluable for such a young team. And with all but two players coming back, it wouldn't be a shock to see this fivesome back to defend and recollect their accolades with another big season in '20.

From the time Izzi Szulczewski suited up as a high-powered freshman hitter at Aloha, it was clear she had a world of potential. Szulczewski is just a different kind of athlete, one that blends coordination, explosiveness and power into one impossible-to-stop cocktail. Her kills could inflict harm. Szulczewksi's springs wowed the masses.

Szulczewski transferred to Mountainside two years ago and with a better supporting cast around her, took her game to another level. The senior all-around star was named Metro Player of the Year after helping the Mavericks take second in Metro, clinch a berth in the 6A elite eight and ultimately finish fourth at the 6A state tourney.

Fellow Maverick Grace Clark was named first-team All-Metro at libero. Beaverton senior middle blocker Lola Bunn and junior setter Lola Talalemotu both made the All-Metro first team after helping the Beavers punch their ticket back to the 6A playoffs. Sunset senior middle blocker Krista Santos and junior outside hitter Renee Geib earned first-team All-Metro honors. The Apollos made the state tournament once again with a senior-laden squad that swept Mountainside during the regular season Aloha senior southpaw all-around Sara Vanaken was also first-team All-Metro.

Jesuit senior middle blocker Ella Masingale, Mountainside junior hitter/blocker Gabby Auer, junior all-around Mackenzie Leith, Sunset senior libero Ashley Van Gordon, Sunset junior all-around Sydney Hankel and Westview seniors Kylie Blankinship (all around), Renata Fuke (all around) and Tayah Lyons-Harper (hitter/blocker) each were honored with second-team All-Metro distinction.

Jesuit sophomore libero Hannah Nguyen, Mountainside all-around senior Kristi Mazzotta, Southridge senior all-around Emily Bunnell and Sunset senior setter Sam King were each third-team All-Metro.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Mountainside senior Izzi Szulczewski won Metro League Player of the Year after helping the Mavs finish fourth in state.


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