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Huskies' coaching staff, team captain impressed with poise of freshman starters

PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion freshman Jaydan Sahlin (left) and senior Paige Martin (right) rise up to attempt a block on Woodburn sophomore Yamileth Rios in the Huskies' 3-0 win over the Bulldogs on Aug. 28.The North Marion volleyball team couldn't have asked for a better start to the 2018 season, opening its fall schedule Aug. 28 at home with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-13) win over the visiting Woodburn Bulldogs.

The Huskies were looking for a strong start to the season as the team looks to make a playoff push in its return back to the Tri-Valley Conference, but the team had plenty of reason to feel anxious walking onto the court against the Bulldogs. North Marion was coming off a trip to Banks the previous week, where the coaching staff was still deciding which players to pair in the starting lineup with captains Emma Morcom, Paige Martin and Raymee Boese.

"It was a great first game, because we came off of a jamboree where we worked on a lot of stuff," North Marion head coach Jackie Arnold said. "We put a lot of different girls on the court to figure out our starting lineup. It was a good start."

In the end, Arnold tabbed a pair of freshmen — libero Megan Netter and right-side hitter Jaydan Sahlin — to start, and after the victory over Woodburn, she was pleased with the result.

"The jamboree they were a little nervous; today they stepped it up and they played really well," Arnold said Tuesday. "They've been working hard at practice, and they know they have to play above their years, but that's what three years of club for both of them does."

It was a sentiment echoed by Martin, who is entering her third season with the Huskies. She was impressed with the composure showed by Netter and Sahlin, along with sophomore Liliana Piercey.

"It was definitely different having a younger team, but I think they all did well," Martin said. "I knew they had my back. In practice we work really hard, so I knew they had it."

Martin is part of a trio, which includes Morcom and junior Katie Ensign, that has been on the varsity team since 2016. In that time, the Huskies have posted back-to-back winning seasons, a first for the volleyball program in more than a decade.

This year, North Marion is seeking to build upon that success by making its first trip to the state playoffs since the school joined the 4A Classification.

PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion junior Katie Ensign rises up to spike the ball to Woodburn in the Huskies' 3-0 win over the Bulldogs."I want to get league champs and we're all working toward state," Martin said. "That's our goal, and I honestly think we can do it."

The Bulldogs are still feeling out their comfort level in a new classification with mostly a new team and coaching staff. Woodburn already opened the season with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-18) loss at home to the Molalla Indians on Aug. 23, wrapping up its trio of preseason games Thursday with a 3-0 loss (25-7, 25-6, 25-15) at Junction City.

"These games are important games, however they're good practice games for us at this point, because they are preseason," Woodburn head coach Kasi Pankey said. "What this has shown us is areas we need to work on. We didn't have the luxury of a gym space this summer, so it was nice to get in there and show what we're made of as a team."

Pankey noted that despite starting the season with three consecutive 3-0 losses, underneath the results the numbers show that the team is already improving and adjusting after each game. She pointed to a 10-plus margin of points lost in the net against Molalla, which the team followed against North Marion by losing just one.

PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Janet Victoria is one of the few holdovers from last year's team, as the Bulldogs continue to feel out their place in the 4A Classification with a largely new team and coaching staff."It just shows us that we know what we need to work on," Pankey said. "They know they need to do it, they're very coachable, and they execute."

Woodburn (0-3) moves on to its first Oregon West game this week, a home match against the Sweet Home Huskies that was scheduled for Tuesday. The Bulldogs finish their week at Madras in a non-conference game on Thursday.

North Marion (1-0) still has another week to go before league play. The Huskies were scheduled to travel to Banks on Tuesday, followed by a home game against Seaside on Thursday before wrapping up their week at a tournament hosted by Cascade High School.

Phil Hawkins can be reached at 503-765-1194 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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