Gaston young, but talented
New year, new team.
Last year's Gaston Greyhounds volleyball team finished 18-8 overall and 9-2 in conference play, good for third place in the Northwest League. But the departure of five seniors will bring a whole new dynamic to this year's team. Head coach Melody McMasters is far from throwing in the towel on what she said could still be a successful 2019 season.
"It's exciting," McMasters said. "At the beginning of the year I was thinking this was going to be a learning year, but I had to change my mind. These girls are gelling so well and putting everything together, so we may not have to wait in order to make something happen."
The Greyhounds do return five seniors, but beyond that have four sophomores and three freshmen filling out the roster. McMasters said the team will be led by sophomore middle blocker Mackenzie Berger, who the coach said was a "powerhouse for the team" last year, along with senior Blessing Mackenzie and sophomore setter Sarina Kintz. In addition, the team will boast three freshmen starters, inclusing Maya Rosenberg, Ally Lazott, and Madi Bentley, along with senior Hannah Farmer, who the coach said is making a position change this year.
"Hannah Farmer will be the libero moving over from setter," McMasters said. "She is one of the team captains and is rocking it."
The coach believes the strength of her team will be energy and athleticism, along with work ethic and an overall positive attitude. One area of concern, though, she acknowledged, might be meshing a team full of both upper- and lower-classmen, who in many ways have very different skill sets.
"The hard part is that we have 25 kids out for volleyball," she said. "I started coaching club ball two years ago, so the freshmen and sophomores have played more than 60 games with me, whereas my juniors and seniors, they didn't have those opportunities available to them. So we have really different skill sets throughout the team."
The Northwest League boasts returning state champion Portland Christian, and McMasters said Vernonia always has a solid team, but aside from the aforementioned, the coach said she doesn't know exactly what to expect from her league of competition.
"I'm not sure how much the other teams in our league lost to graduation," McMasters said. "So we're practicing hard to be ready for anything."
"We haven't really addressed goals yet," the coach said. "We're just getting everyone together, so we'll see how things play out early and I think we'll be getting better every day as we go along."
Gaston started the year with wins over Clatskanie and Colton, while dropping a match to Scio this past weekend. They hosted Knappa in their league opener Tuesday, Sept. 10, after this paper's print deadline, and will host Columbia Christian at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Gaston High School.
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