Former volleyball players revisit run to the finals
It's been almost 36 years since the 1982 Estacada volleyball team reached the state finals. And yet, it is produced such a memorable time in the lives of Nadene Eisert (Syes) and Bev Mason (Charriere).
"Volleyball was probably the only thing that kept me in school," Mason said. "It was the only sport I ever played and it was incredibly important to me."
Mason was the team's star setter while Eisert excelled as an outside hitter. Their cohesiveness as a pair ended up playing huge dividends in their run to a championship. Both credit their head coach, Richard Soderquist, as a very influential piece of their success on and off the court.
"He was not a guy that you wanted to disappoint," Eisert said. "He taught me how to be accountable to my team and to others and that is something I have taken forward in my
Mason also added: "he felt like a second dad to us. He cared for us so much and he had a huge influence on us. He was such a great teacher. We all trusted him so much and he influenced so many lives."
As Eisert and Mason entered into their senior season, each of them knew that their squad had the opportunity to do something special. The Rangers were stacked with a crew of mostly seniors that had been playing together for the past three seasons.
Unlike others schools, this Estacada bunch made it a point to play volleyball year-round together as most of the group played club ball and even traveled to camps down in California.
"Playing year-round was crucial for us," Eisert said. "We were with the same team and the same coaches in club ball, which made a huge difference...Most of us had never left Estacada, so it was incredible when we had the chance to go to a camp in California and play with girls from big schools."
The Rangers weren't the closet team in the world outside of the gym. Each had their own different interests and friend groups outside of sports. But when it came time to play volleyball, the connection was always there.
"We all had different groups of friends," Mason said. "Off the court, we didn't hang out much as a group. But on the court we were a family."
The extra work in the offseason paid off as Estacada finished the regular year with a 12-2 record and clinched a spot in the Class AA State Playoffs as the success of the Rangers captivated the town.
"It's always good to be on a winning team," Mason said. "We had posters all over our school and people actually started coming out to our games and cheering us on. The whole school gets behind you once you have a winning team. We had more and more people filling out the gym."
Estacada beat Rainier 15-10, 15-10 in the first round of the postseason to advance onto the State Tournament — which was held at Gladstone High School. Unfortunately, the Rangers would not be at full strength heading into the quarterfinals.
In the days leading up to the State Tournament, Eiesert was injured in a car accident. She tried to play through the pain, but was unable to do so.
"I wanted to play really badly, but I was trying to warmup and I couldn't even hit the ball," Eiesrt said.
Even though they were short-handed, the Rangers won a pair of tight matches leading up to the state championship. They beat North Marion 15-6, 9-15, 15-12 in the quarterfinals and defeated Sweet Home 15-11, 9-15, 15-8, setting up their showdown with Myrtle Point in the final.
The Rangers got smoked 15-6 in the first game, but gained the momentum by winning the second game 15-4, forcing a winner-take-all third set. But Estacada fell behind early in the final game and couldn't rally back as they lost 15-5.
Even though Mason was named second-team all-tournament, she was distraught after the defeat.
"We were sure we were going to win because we had never heard of (Myrtle Point) before and we had beaten all these other top schools," Mason said. "It was a devastating loss. I think we all cried, but we played a tough game."
After the school year ended and the squad went their separate ways, keeping up with what everyone had been up to in adulthood was nearly impossible. But with the creation of social media, it became a lot easier for the former teammates to stay in contact with each other.
"Finally connecting on Facebook has been a great way to stay in touch and know what is going on in the lives of our old teammates," Mason said.
Mason now lives near Oregon City and owns Radiant Touch Weddings where she provides service as an ordained nondenominational minister. After spending years working government jobs, Mason is more than happy to have her own business.
"I really enjoy being self-employed," Mason said. "It feels good to be able to do your own thing."
After college, Eisert worked as a dental assistant for six years before taking a break from dentistry to work in child care and child development. She got back into dental care in 2004 as she has worked for Harmony Orthodontics for the last 14 years.
Mason has been married to her husband, Gene, for 22 years and they have two daughters. Eisert, on the other hand, has two sons and was married to her high school sweetheart, George, for 25 years before he passed away in 2011.
Even though both Eisert and Mason's volleyball days are long gone, the two still love
to reminisce about the glory days as star athletes in Estacada.
"Estacada was the best place for me to be involved with volleyball," Mason said. "I was involved ever since I was a little girl going to my sister's games and being a ball-shagger...It will always be apart of my life. When people ask me what I was in high school, I tell
them that I was a volleyball player."
Eisert also commented: "Volleyball was the highlight of my high school life."