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Madras opens up the new season 0-3 after losses to La Pine, Redmond and North Lake

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Senior setter Alexa La Pier, center, led the Buffs with four aces during Friday's home loss to Redmond.The White Buffalos started the new season slowly last week, falling to 0-3 after losing matches to La Pine, Redmond and North Lake. Still, head coach Frank Maynard said after the home opener against Redmond that he is happy with the improvement he has seen from his team.

"First of all, they played about as well as I thought they would in La Pine," said Maynard on Friday night in the Buffalo Dome. "They played better than I thought they would here, so the improvement's encouraging."

After falling in three sets to La Pine (25-14, 25-14, 25-14), the varsity squad played in front of the home crowd on Friday. Madras was unable to knock off an undefeated Redmond team, losing to the Panthers by set scores of 25-12, 25-12 and 25-17.

The team had the unfortunate fate of being billed against a football doubleheader at MHS, so that crowd was somewhat light for a home opener. Still, the familiar echoes of students cheering on their friends and classmates was a welcome reminder that fans will be able to watch the Buffs play this season, unlike last year.

Back on the court, Maynard's team was without senior libero Taylor Olson for the Redmond game, though the coach was still pleased with his team's passing and defense.

"We were missing our number one libero. I think our defense was pretty sound, but we just need to get a better offense," said Maynard. "Our serve-receive has improved. We missed a few tonight, but in general, I think they've improved."

Without Olson in the lineup, senior JB Bruised Head wore the blue jersey for Madras in their match against Redmond. Fellow senior Alexa La Pier led the team with four aces, though equally important are her contributions to the team is in her role as setter.

"Alexa sets on her serve-receive, and then she plays defense," said Maynard. "So far, it's working very well."

In addition to La Pier, sophomore KayDee Abendschein is the second setter in Maynard's scheme. Though, to hear him tell it, that scheme is flexible.

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Head coach Frank Maynard, right, says that coaches his teams based on the individual abilities of his athletes, rather than making them fit into a system that might not suit them."Basically, it is a function of the athletes we have," Maynard said. "I don't coach a definite, 'this-is-the-only-way-I-do-it' style and try to adjust the athletes to it."

Over the weekend, the team was without both Olson and Bruised Head, so junior varsity starter Kinlee Baggett was called up to the first team for Saturday's matchup with North Lake. The Buffs traveled to Prineville to take part in the Crook County Invite. North Lake prevailed in a two-setter, beating Madras by scores of 25-20 and 25-13.

"The effort was there," said Maynard on Monday, "but it didn't translate into wins."

Madras now begins Tri-Valley Conference play, first with a home match against Molalla on Sept. 16, followed by a road trip to face off with Estacada on Sept. 21.

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