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Tenley Lubisich is back with the Wildcats after taking last season off to be in the high school's musical

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Sisters Tatum and Tenley Lubisich are middle blockers on Wilsonville's volleyball team.

Tenley Lubisich took last Wilsonville volleyball season off to be in the theatre department's annual musical.

But the middle blocker did not leave the Wildcats without a replacement — her younger sister Tatum.

With Tatum starting in the middle as a freshman, Wilsonville had one of its best seasons in school history, finishing a perfect 14-0 in the Northwest Oregon Conference and then advancing to the Class 5A state tournament at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

Tatum had 54 kills, 18 blocks and 21 aces in the Wildcats 14 league matches.

"It was amazing," said Tatum, who even took her older sister's No. 8 jersey. "It was so cool. I absolutely loved it. All of the girls, even though I didn't have my older sister with me, they all treated me like they were my older sisters. It's like a big family here."

Tatum and Tenley have both played volleyball since they were 7 years old.

Both have an artistic side. Tatum plays piano, guitar and ukulele. She also sings and writes her own songs.

As a sophomore, Tenley started in the middle for the Wildcats in 2017. She had a block on the final point of Wilsonville's first ever win over La Salle Prep in five sets.

But Tenley suffered a concussion during her sophomore season and had back problems entering her junior year.

Wilsonville was also performing one of her favorite musicals — Legally Blonde.

"I really, really love theatre and last year's musical was just so good that I decided to take one year off (from volleyball) and then go back," Tenley said. "That was a really hard decision for me. It's hard having to give up one thing you really love for a couple of months."

Tenley played Brooke Wyndham in the musical. Her first week of shows were during the volleyball state tournament.

"It was hard," Tenley said of not playing in the state tournament. "I missed it, but I love the theatre department here. I wanted to be out there (on the court), but I couldn't. I was glad they were doing so well, but it was hard because it's something I had put years into and I love the sport. Especially after taking time off, you grow to miss it."

Returning this season was an easy decision for Tenley.

"I wanted to play with this one," she said, looking at Tatum. "I'm so happy to be back. I'm absolutely loving it. It's been so awesome and it's been great playing with her. We get along super well."

Wilsonville coach Nathan Blankenship is obviously thrilled to have Tenley back on the team.

"Her composure under pressure and ability to play big points will help us press forward against the highly talented teams we will face this year," he said.

Tatum, who was named to the Frosh 59, which includes the best high school freshmen in America, has continued to improve in her second season with the Wildcats.

"Tatum continues to amaze the coaches with her growth and ability to crush the ball in very fast tempo attacks," Blankenship said. "She is a huge asset to the team and as a sophomore, she is playing with a maturity beyond her years. Her speed to get to outside blocks, fast transitions and big hammer from the middle makes her invaluable to our push to a state championship. She is critical to our team."

Blankenship wants the Wilsonville volleyball program to feel like a family. Having actual sisters on the team has made that goal easier.

"The support they show each other is wonderful," Blankenship said. "They are the type of players that coaches dream of having on their teams, selfless, encouraging, willing to listen and learn, and all-around great people. Wilsonville is fortunate indeed to have these kind and talented sisters together for a run at the state championship."

The Wildcats opened this season 3-0 to extend its NWOC winning streak to 27 matches.

"We're just trying to climb to the highest spot possible," Tenley said. "That's our goal."

"Our team is so strong and we all play well together," Tatum added. "If we're going to win state, this is the year."

Derek Wiley
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