All-15 mentality carries West Linn volleyball to 6A state title
Watching West Linn High volleyball play, it could be easy to get lost watching senior outside hitter Emily Warmenhoven.
The strength to which she sends spikes to the floor is akin to the sound a jackhammer makes breaking up cement.
The problem is, every opponent knows that the Belmont University commit is the go-to hitter.
That's why, despite a low night in kills, 11, against Jesuit in the Class 6A state title match Saturday, Nov. 6, at Liberty High School, her teammates rallied behind her. Something that's happened all year to get the Lions to a 27-2 overall record.
And it's why the Lions are walking away state champions after sweeping the Crusaders 25-16, 25-21, 25-20.
"We know it takes everyone on this team, and we wanted to take some pressure off of Emily to not feel like she had to do it on her own," West Linn junior Addie Hoover said. "I feel like everyone just stepped up and did it as a team."
Hoover certainly stepped up on the attack, especially in the first set when she put down six of her 11 kills, which was tied with Warmenhoven for the most on the night against Jesuit.
What really separated the Lions from the Crusaders was what their middle blockers were able to do to slow down the heavy hitters from Jesuit.
There's no missing 6-foot-3 Jesuit middle blocker Tess Masingale, but the Lions made her miss all night as she had only seven kills on 26 attempts.
The Crusaders' outside duo of Ceanna O'Loughlin and Isabel Patterson didn't have much better luck there picking up 17 of Jesuit's 26 total team kills on the night.
West Linn senior middle blocker Rayna Reynolds seemed to be in on nearly every block as she officially had four blocks, but her hands slowed down attacks all night.
"I tell the middles that if you're active and engaged, you actually support the team, even if it's one or two, you're opening up and people have to hesitate," West Linn coach Emilie Wilmes said. "Having middles that are super active really helps us."
It wasn't just the middles getting the job done all season and Saturday night either as setter Shealyn Cecil was named the player of the game following her 31 assists and 11 digs, acting as a strong floor general all night long.
Consistently, she made the smart play, whether that was sacrificing a good set to save an errant pass or knocking a ball over on a fake set to catch the Jesuit defenders off balance.
And it pays to have a healthy connection with the star in Warmenhoven.
"Emily and I have been together for a few years now, lots of seasons," Cecil said. "Our parents like to call us Batman and Robin so we do have really good chemistry."
On Saturday night though, everyone looked like Batman in the sweep over powerhouse Jesuit to give West Linn it's fifth state volleyball title in program history.
With nine seniors graduating, it may look like West Linn is going to become a one-off rather than a repeat champion, but there's plenty of Robins in the waiting.
And after a night like that, everyone can see it takes more than just one hero leading the way.
"We've been through a lot of adversity together as a team, and I feel like we've really bonded through it," Cecil said. "No matter what your role is on the team, we all know that you're important and we can only get it done with all 15 of us."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.