Sandy reloads to try and stay among contenders
Sandy's volleyball team stepped up to the challenge of its return to 6A last season by earning a trip to the big-school state tournament.
This fall, the Pioneers are adapting again with a new coach and some big holes to fill in the lineup.
Lihau Perreira, a former standout at Barlow High and Mt. Hood Community College, has taken on the head coaches role.
The Pioneers graduated a pair of long-time starters with setter Brooke Dodge now at Eastern Oregon University, and heavy hitter Sammie Brewster playing this season at Mt. Hood Community College.
This year's unit has some size in the middle with the return of 6-foot-2 Josie Jansen along with the addition of Brewster's younger sister 6-foot Sydney for her rookie year.
The Pioneers are winless through four preseason matches, although all of those losses came to teams that reached at least the semifinals in their respective divisions a year ago, including 6A champ Jesuit and 4A champ Valley Catholic.
Here's a look at the rest of the Mount Hood Conference ...
The Bruins are the East County team that has proven the most capable of challenging the league leaders over the past decade. That effort begins this season with returning junior Samantha Pemberton in the setter role.
"She's a really great leader, and she is very smart about volleyball — she really owns that position," Bruins' coach Jessie Mott said.
Sophomore Jessie Matthews is expected to be a force in the middle, while senior Emma Corvese returns to the libero spot.
The Bruins finished in the top half of the league with an 8-6 mark last season, surrendering only one set to teams that finished below them in the standings.
DAVID DOUGLAS SCOTS
The Scots return a senior tandem in setter Evelin Diaz and outside hitter Alyssa Ashe, while sophomore Alexandria Mann is another force in the front row.
Much of the rest of the David Douglas lineup is young with four sophomores expected to be in the starting rotation.
"A lot of these younger players have played club ball, so they are coming in with that competitive mindset, so it's been a smooth transition," David Douglas coach Janeen Rainey said. "We aren't a big team, our average height is 5-4 or 5-5, but they are super aggressive and they don't give up."
Gresham returns senior Bella Perkins in the front row to anchor what looks to be a young lineup that includes a pair of rookies.
"This group has been so coachable and super positive," Gophers' coach Lori Cook said. "It's been a really awesome preseason. It's fun just to be in the gym with them."
Getting into the gym has been the trick.
Gresham High is in the process of building its new facility, which meant a preseason spent at Clear Creek Middle School and a fall season that has only recently transitioned to the auxiliary gym at the high school, which will serve as home court on game nights. With only one gym available on campus, game nights are expected to be later than the rest of the league with varsity matches scheduled for 7 p.m. starts.
"It's been a jumble moving balls, nets and poles to different places, but we are starting to settle in," Cook said.
The Eagles are under the direction of first-year head coach Jared Johnson, who was a standout club volleyball player at Oregon State University. He has been an assistant at Barlow and Oregon Episcopal in the past. After a couple years teaching elementary physical education in Beaverton, he is now on staff in the PE/Health department at Centennial High.
"We have a lot of numbers out this year, and I see the culture changing with the level of commitment," Johnson said. "Ultimately, I want to create a fun and dedicated culture."
The Eagles return senior Ellie Basinski in the middle, along with Tupou Fononga on the outside and Bailey Becker in the libero spot.
Reynolds opened the season by winning two of three bouts at the Southridge jamboree under new coach Narisa Laban. The Raiders return Adia Messenger at setter and Olivia Lambert in the middle.
Look for this season preview in our Sept. 11, print edition.
INSIDE THE #s
? Sets dropped by Central Catholic in league play last year. The Rams still went a perfect 14-0 in match play, but were pushed to a fifth set by both Sandy and Clackamas.
? Times in the last 10 years that the MHC did not get a team into the 6A title match. Last season, the league had its teams eliminated after the quarterfinals.
? Winning percentage for MHC teams, which have gone 25-11 in the first-and-second rounds of the state playoffs over the past five seasons.
2019 MHC SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Sept. 11
Reynolds @ Clackamas
Barlow @ David Douglas
Sandy @ Gresham,7
Centennial @ Central Catholic, 7
Tuesday, Sept. 17
Clackamas @ Centennial
Gresham @ Reynolds
David Douglas @ Sandy
Central Catholic @ Barlow
Thursday, Sept. 19
Centennial @ David Douglas
Sandy @ Clackamas
Reynolds @ Central Catholic
Barlow @ Gresham, 7
Tuesday, Sept. 24
Centennial @ Sandy
Clackamas @ David Douglas
Reynolds @ Barlow
Gresham @ Central Catholic
Thursday, Sept. 26
Centennial @ Reynolds
Central Catholic @ Clackamas
Barlow @ Sandy
David Douglas @ Gresham, 7:30
Tuesday, Oct. 1
Gresham @ Clackamas
Barlow @ Centennial
Central Catholic @ David Douglas
Sandy @ Reynolds
Thursday, Oct. 3
Barlow @ Clackamas
Reynolds @ David Douglas
Sandy @ Central Catholic
Centennial @ Gresham, 7
Monday, Oct. 7
Gresham @ Sandy
Central Catholic @ Centennial
Clackamas @ Reynolds
David Douglas @ Barlow
Wednesday, Oct. 9
Barlow @ Central Catholic
Sandy @ David Douglas
Centennial @ Clackamas, TBD
Reynollds @ Gresham, 7
Tuesday, Oct. 15
Gresham @ Barlow
David Douglas @ Centennial
Central Catholic @ Reynolds
Clackamas @ Sandy
Thursday, Oct. 17
Barlow @ Reynolds
Sandy @ Centennial
David Douglas @ Clackamas
Central Catholic @ Gresham, 7
Tuesday, Oct. 22
Gresham @ David Douglas
Reynolds @ Centennial
Clackamas @ Central Catholic
Sandy @ Barlow
Thursday, Oct. 24
Centennial @ Barlow
David Douglas @ Central Catholic
Reynolds @ Sandy
Clackamas @ Gresham, 7
Varsity first-serve at 6:15 p.m. unless noted
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