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Central Catholic volleyball claimed the Mt. Hood league title in its quest for a potential Class 6A state title.

PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Central Catholic High volleyball's Elliott Bush lines up a serve Oct. 14, 2021, against Gresham at Gresham High School.You wouldn't guess it by watching, but volleyball isn't the main sport for Central Catholic High's Elliott Bush.

Instead, the four-year varsity player is a standout javelin thrower in track and field and is looking to pursue that in college.

Still, whether it's on the field or on the court, Bush is throwing darts.

And it was her kills Thursday, Oct. 14, that helped give the Rams the Mt. Hood Conference title with a 3-1 win over Gresham, 25-12, 25-18, 22-25, 25-14.

"She brings a lot of energy and leadership. We have a lot of leadership on our team, but she's probably the most vocal in that role," Rams coach Kayla Hambley said. "She takes volleyball seriously, but she doesn't take herself too seriously and that energy kind of riles up the team."

Gresham made Central Catholic take it seriously in order to clinch the Mt. Hood title. With three games left in the league slate, the Rams sit three games ahead of Clackamas and Nelson and beat both squads twice to earn any potential tiebreakers.

Getting to that point hasn't been easy either as the Rams' starting lineup features girls of all grade levels, which has been a unique twist in the eyes of Bush.PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Central Catholic High volleyball players line up before the serve Oct. 14, 2021, against Gresham at Gresham High School.

"We have such strong players of all ages, our two freshmen are starters," Bush said. "It's a fun dynamic because it kind of forces more of a community between upperclassmen and underclassmen because everyone is just intermixed."

One of those freshmen is Malia Parker, who Hambley praised for her efficient hitting following the match with Gresham.

Parker and Bush are just two of the many weapons at Hambley's disposal though as players like Alycia Wilson, Mia Starr and Sofia Copper all showed off their strong swings against the Gophers.

"These players work really hard in the offseason, they're in the weight room, and they're very versatile players," Hambley said. "It's something that is probably the biggest blessing of our season this year is when something's not going right, we have players off the bench who can come in and step in."

Hambley also said that every player gets practice at every position in order to be ready for whatever an opponent may face.

Bush displayed that against Gresham when the Rams moved her to the right side after the Gophers were able to find ways around the Central Catholic block.

Having an understanding of all positions has given Bush a unique role to teach those younger players and it's something she has embraced.PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Central Catholic High volleyball freshman Malia Parker lines up for a serve Oct. 14, 2021, against Gresham at Gresham High School.

"It feels like I was a freshman so recently, so I look at them and know exactly how they feel," Bush said. "It's really fun to be in a position of leadership where I know exactly what it's like to need a certain type of leadership."

That leadership is not only needed but expected in a program like Central Catholic.

The Rams have been to Class 6A state finals eight times since 2010, winning state titles in 2010, 2011 and 2016.

Due to Nelson joining the fray of the Mt. Hood Conference, the Rams had more league games this year and could only play in two tournaments, one being this weekend at West Linn.

With limited time outside of the league, Hambley knows her squad needs to take advantage of every opportunity against the potential teams they'll see down the line like a West Linn, who handed the Rams their lone loss of the season.

"We've lost a lot of the opportunities our season normally has," Hambley said. "We're really looking forward to this weekend, playing different teams, getting outside of our league and then we have three more matches."PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Central Catholic High volleyball's Renee Tassin digs out a serve Oct. 14, 2021, against Gresham at Gresham High School.

While it may be a one-game-at-a-time mentality, it doesn't hurt to project a little bit of confidence though.

Especially from the top of the leadership chain.

"In terms of where our team is going, I'd say we have no ceiling," Bush said. "We can take state if we want to."


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