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From 6A to 1A, there are a plethora of great volleyball players returning to their squads to make postseason moves.

PMG FILE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais senior Izzy Boyd will be back to help lead her team in another charge towards the postseason.

The high school volleyball season is nearly back, with jamborees done and league and non-league games already under way.

As the season roars into high gear, we are identifying at some of the biggest names from around the Valley Zone. With programs spanning five classifications and multiple leagues, there is no shortage of volleyball talent in the area.

(Note: As defined by Pamplin Media Group, the Valley Zone includes the following high schools: Newberg, Canby, Woodburn, North Marion, Molalla, Kennedy, Colton, Gervais, St. Paul, Country Christian, C.S. Lewis Academy, and Veritas).

Woodburn Bulldogs (5A)

Lilli Pankey, senior

Isabella Sanchez, junior, setter

Pankey is the most decorated of the returning Bulldogs volleyball players. Last year's team captain was an all-league honorable mention in 2020 and 2021.

"A strong all-around player, but I can always rely on her consistent serving and supporting her teammates," coach Kasi Pankey said.

Sanchez is a third-year setter for the team and will help to coordinate the team's offense on the floor against fresh 5A competition. Woodburn's (2-0) first league matchup will be against Silverton (3-0) on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Canby Cougars (5A)

Natalie Just, senior, setter

Chloe Annas, senior, middle hitter

According to Canby head coach Terri Jo Schlatter, the anchor for the Cougars offense is senior setter and last year's second team all-leaguer Natalie Just. Just is calm under pressure, according to Schlatter, and will help to lead Canby in its new Northwest Oregon Conference home. One of the key offensive players Just will be setting up for success is middle hitter Annas, a four-year varsity athlete and the only team member who was around when Canby finished third in the 6A state championships.

"We are not full of super powerful hitters, so we are training with the mindset that we have to outwork and out scrap our opponents," Schlatter said. "I am seeing it every day in the gym, and I am super excited to get this season going!"

North Marion Huskies (4A)

Shay Coello, senior, outside hitter (all-league honorable mention)

Clara Miller, senior, middle blocker

The Huskies graduated plenty of senior talent last year but return six varsity players from last year's roster. Among them is senior outside hitter Shay Coello, an all-league honorable mention last year. Coello finds a new home on the outside after battling it out in the middle last year, and head coach Lindy Wing figures that Coello will lead the team in assists and kills. Miller, another senior, will be the middle blocker at the net this year. She led the team in blocks and kills last year but is slowly working her way back into action after suffering an injury due to a car accident in July.

"One aspect of this year that I hold close to my heart is that the Class of 2023 were freshman when I came in as the coach four years ago. I have been lucky enough to grow with them and teach them from the start. I am excited to see what their next chapters will bring, but it's a bitter-sweet moment to contemplate."

Colton Vikings (2A)

Abby Behrens, senior, setter

Sydney Earls, senior, middle blocker

Behrens and Earls, alone with fellow seniors Justice hakes and Natalie Irving, are the four seniors on this 10-person roster. Behrens was an all-league honorable mention libero last year but will be making the move to setter for the Vikings. Earls, meanwhile, will man the center of the net as the middle blocker. With Hakes as the defensive specialist, the Vikings are looking to improve upon a 3-16 record from last season.

"I think our team, although small and inexperienced, will be characterized by scrappiness and never give up attitude!" head coach Shannon Weinberger said.

St. Paul Buckaroos (1A)

Gracie Koch, junior, setter

Stella Koch, junior, outside hitter

Halsie Hempfling, senior, outside hitter

Twin sisters Gracie and Stella Koch are back in their junior season to help lead the way for the 2021 runner-up Bucks. Stella was named to the 1A All-Tournament team as well as the Casco League Player of the Year, and Gracie was a unanimous first team all-league player. With Gracie setting the 5-1 offense for Stella as well as Hempfling, among others, the St. Paul volleyball juggernaut figures to remain strong.

"They are an incredible group of athletes and young women with strong skill and great attitudes," head coach Lesli Hiller said. "Our bench and practice team is very strong, too, and some of our strongest competition."

Molalla Indians (4A)

Asvery Guijosa Gonzalez, senior, setter

Delaney Mitchell, senior, libero

With Crook County and its highly competitive volleyball team dropping down into the Tri-Valley Conference, Molalla's senior leadership will need to be every bit as good as they had been. Second team all-conference player Guijosa Gonzalez and honorable mention player Mitchell will need to be every bit as impactful this year as they were last year to lead a senior-heavy squad back towards another conference championship.

Newberg Tigers (6A)

Sophie Gregoire-Salagean, senior, outside hitter

McKensi Erion, senior, setter

Newberg finished firmly in second place behind conference champions Sherwood. The Tigers return several key players to try and supplant the Bowmen atop the Pacific Conference, chief among them last year's conference Player of the Year Sophie Gregoire-Salagean. The outside hitter will join second team all-conference setter Erion, as well as honorable mention outside hitters Kara Richman and Audrey Duckworth. The team will be nearly all seniors this time around, with just a pair of sophomores on the varsity roster.

Gervais Cougars (2A)

Izzy Boyd, senior, outside hitter

Olivia Boyd, junior, middle hitter

The Cougars graduated just one senior from the 2021 team in Sarah Saalfeld but return plenty of experience to a team looking to break through to the postseason. Chief among them are sisters Izzy and Olivia Boyd. The senior-junior duo will be dynamic at the net, buoyed by sisters Lilly and Addy McCargar and junior outside hitter Josie Schultz. Last season the team went 9-12 overall but finished the year with a 7-5 league record.

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