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The Tigers look to move up in the Three Rivers League standings during the 2019 season

PMG FILE PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School junior setter Kathleen Peery is starting her third season on the Tiger varsity volleyball roster.TIGARD — The Tigard High School volleyball team may not have many returnees this season from last year's squad.

But, to the Tigers, that doesn't matter.

The young Tigard squad is ready to make up for it lack of varsity experience in other ways.

"Our team is really unified in their goals and are willing to do whatever it takes and work very hard to be a top team this year," Tigard coach Megan Norris said. "We have great attitudes all around and have players who want to push themselves to get better every day. We have a number of great hitters who are also excellent passers."

The Tigers do have three returnees from last year's squad that finished in a tie for sixth place in the final Three Rivers League standings at 3-11, while going 4-14 on the season, and they'll be counted on in a big way this year.

The Tigard returnee with the most varsity experience is junior setter Kennedy Peery (5-foot-8).

"We expect a lot of leadership out of our setter, Kennedy Peery," Norris said. "This will be her third year on varsity and she is ready to take over the offense. She is a positive, fun player to be around, and she knows the game. She is going to find our hot hitters and give them the best opportunity to score."

Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlynn Peterson (5-10) also returns for the Tigers.

"She is going to do score a lot of points for us on offense," Norris said. "She has a lot of hitting tools and her competitiveness is going to make her tough to stop. She will also be a key passer."

Tigard's other returnee is junior outside hitter Erin Bullard (5-7).

"Although a quiet personality compared to our other leaders, she is consistent and she has the capacity to surprise a lot of people, and she brings a calm energy to our team and some tough float serves," Norris said.

Among the key newcomers to the Tigard varsity is sophomore middle blocker Anna Follett (5-9).

"She will be an important part of our offense and defense," Norris said.

Juniors Avery Croxton (5-10) and Alexa vanderSommen (5-8) could also play key roles for the Tigers.

"They can play multiple positions in the front row and allows us a lot of flexibility," Norris said.

Junior Hainite Kinikini (5-9) is another key newcomer.

"She is a lefty who is recovering from an injury but we fully expect she will show up and make some big plays for us on the right side," Norris said.

Other newcomers to the Tigard varsity include junior defensive specialist Sophia Ramirez-Navarrete (5-1), senior right side/defensive specialist Liz Blodgett (5-6), sophomore defensive specialist Sera Reilly (5-3), senior right side Summer Thompson (5-8), sophomore setter Ashley Sample (5-7) and

junior middle blocker Paige Daum (5-10).

As for the Three Rivers League this year, Tigard is expecting a lot of tough competition.

"Our league is always strong," Norris said. "I am very proud to be part of a league with such a high level of competitiveness, very quality coaching and sportsmanship but there will be no easy wins in our league this year. As a team, our goal is to be in the top half of our league and we are focused on taking down teams that have been on top in the past. It is no easy feat, but that is what we are preparing for."

A strong coaching staff could help the Tigers achieve that goal.

"We have a great coaching staff," Norris said. "Every coach in our league works hard but a huge asset to our program is (varsity assistant) Jesse Abell, who brings analysis and key insight into the way we do things, and Nancy Wittgow at JV who is volleyball powerhouse who pushes all the players to be more competitive. The newest member of our team is McKaley Brewer at the JV2 level. This coaching staff is dynamic and invested in our players and our program is moving in the right direction."

Tigard will open its Three Rivers League schedule on Tuesday, when it plays at rival Tualatin in a match scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. On Thursday, the Tigers will be home to face West Linn at 6:30 p.m.

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