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The Cougars will take time to figure things out as plenty of new faces are looking to establish themselves.

A tad overmatched, but the Canby High volleyball team stood and fought in a three-set loss to visiting Sheldon on Sept. 1.

The Cougars fell by scores of 25-11, 25-13, and 25-21. It may have been a loss to open 2021 play, but coach Terri Jo Schlatter saw and felt plenty of positives.

"We had a great student section cheering us on all night in a match where we were overmatched but fought hard," she said.

The Cougars have graduated 11 key players over the last two years, so Schlatter said her current squad has plenty of new faces to it.

COURTESY PHOTO: SARAH OLIVER - The Canby High volleyball team opened its season with a three-set loss to visiting Sheldon on Sept. 1. The Cougars are inexperienced and looking to see new players establish themselves in the lineup.

"We are still trying to figure out roles and lineups," she said. "This may be very fluid all year long. We have lots of competition in the gym at every position, which is great as it brings the level of intensity up at practice every day."

Though the team has three seniors, six juniors, two sophomores and a freshman on the varsity, the team could use some seasoning.

"We are not exactly young in age, but we are young in experience, and that is going to show a little," Schlatter said. "This group has great passion and is improving every day. But we are outmanned as far as (dealing with) big, powerful hitters, so we are working on being smarter volleyball players — winning the ball control battle (passing and serving) and being scrappy and playing fierce defense. It's a work in progress, but the girls are working hard to control the controllable things."

Against Sheldon, Chloe Annas had a good night. A three-year varsity performer, the junior hasn't played a lot the previous two years. She will be looked on to carry a significant load for the Cougars this year and got her season off to a nice start with nine kills and 12 digs during the match. Senior Sam Vandecouevering had a pair of kills, four digs and two service aces on the night.

"Gabi Gray (senior) has become the general in the back row as a defensive specialist," Schlatter said. "She has also been on varsity since she was a freshman, but did not receive much playing time until now. She has an amazingly tough serve and was a serving specialist.."

Also looking to contribute this season is senior Atalie Leder, who is in her second year as a setter (nine assists against Sheldon) for the Cougars, and junior transfer Natalie Just, another setter who had seven assists and two kills against Sheldon. Carlie Lewis (Jr.) is another defensive specialist who added some positive moments against the Irish.

"We have a lot of pieces we are trying to put together to find the best fit," Schlatter said. "It's definitely a work in progress, but the girls are stepping up to the challenge and we are excited to see our progress as the season progresses."

Canby gets league action started on Sept. 7 at Lake Oswego, then returns home Sept. 9 to take on Tigard. Game time for both is 6:30 p.m.

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