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Bulldogs must shut down for two weeks and will miss the Aug. 28 tournament in Warrenton

MADRAS PIONEER FILE PHOTO - The Culver volleyball team will go on a two-week pause after a positive COVID-19 test within the program.The Culver High School volleyball program is currently on a two-week pause due to COVID-19 protocols, confirmed CHS athletic director Alex Carlson.

Carlson, who will be coaching the varsity volleyball team this season, said he learned of a positive test within the program on Monday.

"We had a bit of an outbreak, so we're shut down for two weeks," Carlson said. "It's not the way you want to start the season."

"We'll deal with it," he added. "This doesn't mean that we backtrack from our goal to win a state championship."

The pause forced Culver out of a preseason tournament in Warrenton, which was scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 28. The Bulldogs are also scheduled to play in the East & West Tournament in Heppner on Saturday, Sep. 4, but now the status of that event is up in the air. Carlson could not confirm whether Culver would be able to participate but hopes they can.

"It's tough, though," Carlson noted. "You don't really want to go into a tournament without being able to practice."

"Then again, we also have our first league game a few days later," referring to the team's scheduled home match with Gervais on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

"Not having any preseason games would be tough."

Still, Carlson remains positive and optimistic about the team. He noted the talent level, the positive attitude and the sheer number of players on the squad as reasons to be excited about Bulldog volleyball this year.

The school recently hired Carlson, a Culver High graduate in the class of 2000, to replace former athletic director and football coach Shea Little, who resigned in the spring. Carlson returns to CHS after spending time coaching basketball at colleges such as Boise State, Alaska-Anchorage and, most recently, Southern Oregon.

Now he is wearing multiple hats within the Bulldogs' various programs, serving as athletic director, acting as head volleyball coach and running the school's strength and conditioning program.

Serving as varsity assistants are homegrown coaches Jazmin Ruiz and Emma Hoke, who were teammates together on the Bulldogs' state title team in 2012. Ruiz will also serve as the coach of Culver's junior varsity team. Rounding out the coaching staff will be new addition Courtney Carlson, who moved here with Alex and their two sons when he took the job as athletic director. In addition to an assistant role on the varsity team, Courtney will serve as the JV2 coach should the program retain everyone from its impressive early turnout.

"Our numbers are awesome," Alex Carlson said. "We had so many people come out that we actually had to make cuts."

The level of participation is an encouraging sign for a program with a legacy to uphold. The Bulldogs have made it to the state championship three times in the past decade.

But before this year's Culver team can show off their skills, the first step to another state title is simply getting back on the court.


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