Throughout Scappoose volleyball coach Mark Sprenger's tenure, he's taken teams that finished fourth in league to the state tournament.
In the relentless Northwest Oregon Conference, where teams can take no matches off, that's a fact the Indians can fall back on as inexperienced players pick valuable time in the rotation.
The NWOC is fairly unforgiving with Wilsonville, La Salle Prep and St. Helens all looking primed for big seasons with experienced teams. In volleyball, inexperienced squads don't have the luxury of playing nonleague matches before commencing the league slate. So, Scappoose will have to learn on the fly as it dives into conference play.
"We have progressions we have to take them through, but they're quick learners and eventually we're going to get them there," Sprenger said. "We want to improve week to week, game to game and hopefully put ourselves in a position to surprise some people. I think it's doable to finish top four in the league. And once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen. Anybody can be beaten on any given day."
The conference slate presents a challenge that Sprenger welcomes. Scappoose finished the 2018 season 9-12 and 6-8 in the NWOC, good for fifth place.
"I'd way rather be in a league that's tough and sneak into the playoffs than destroy bad teams every week," Sprenger said. "You only get better by playing better teams. If you get beat, you get beat and try to learn from it and get better. That's the one thing I pride myself on: keeping the spirits up even if we lose. We just have to learn from every match and continue to get better in practice."
Scappoose has a lot of seniors, but few boast varsity experience. The Indians have two freshmen in outside hitter Abby Stansbury and middle blocker Dylan Mann who will factor into the rotation as well.
Senior 6-footer Darci DeTroy is an angular, agile outside hitter in her third varstiy year. Two years ago, when the Indians took seventh in the Class 5A tournament, DeTroy was Scappoose's right-side hitter. As a junior, she was seventh in the NWOC MVP balloting. DeTroy can hit from the right side, left side or out of the back row. To boot, her jump serve is a weapon that can score a lot of points.
"We're going to rely on her a lot because she's probably a college-level volleyball player," Sprenger said. "She's going to carry a big burden of our offense. We'll set our offense around her. All-around, she's a great kid, so we have high hopes for her."
Senior Sophi Hering most likely will start at libero after playing primarily junior varsity last year.
"She hustles, she works hard, passes the ball well and moves well," Sprenger said. "The game is going to come at her fast ... but once she gets acclimated to the speed she's going to be fine. We'll rely on her defensively a lot."
Senior middle blocker Sophia Johanson-Phillips is a 6-2 defensive stalwart who will also get a good amount of passes in the offense.
Look for seniors Angelina Seberger, Kenzie Thayer, Abbie Sanger, Kris Lombard, Amelia Schlosser, and juniors Vivian Irving, Samantha Scott and Gracey DeLoach to compete for playing time as well.
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