OLD OREGON VOLLEYBALL
By Raenelle Kwock
The Old Oregon League has swelled by three volleyball teams this season.
Imbler, Joseph and Pine Eagle will go up against Wallowa, Cove Powder Valley and Adrian.
Last year, Powder Valley and Wallowa were the co-league champions with 8-2 records, while Cove was 5-5.
Imbler was 5-2, while Joseph was 3-4 in Wapiti League play.
Here's a look at the local Old Oregon teams:
The Cougars are working hard and having a lot of fun.
"We definitely have a lot of work to do," coach Terri Wilson said.
The team is made up of seniors Wendy Spaur, Leah Pringle, Megan Haga and Brandy Lee; juniors Emily Isley, Chelsea Frei, Crista Bomberger, Charisse Josi, Lichel Lewis and Leila Wortman.
Wilson said freshmen Brittney and Crystal Mayton, who transferred from Union, are great assets to the team.
Wallowa opens at Echo Friday.
The Eagles return six from last year's team.
Back are senior setter Denae Micka, senior defensive specialist/libero Beth McClaran, junior middle blocker Julie Butterfield, junior outside hitter Holly Parker, junior outside hitter Alayna Brink and junior defensive specialist/libero Brooke Moncrief.
The new members on varsity are junior middle blocker Emily Williams, sophomore setter Kerry Gleasman, and senior outside hitters Darcy Witherrite, Mandy Stroebel and Cassy Parker.
"The strengths of this year's team is their ability to play as a team," coach Kendall Hayes said. "We have several girls who can really hit and block, and several girls who can play strong defense and pass.
"We have strong leadership on the court, with Denae and first-year varsity sophomore Kerry Gleasman as setters," Hayes added. "They have been working hard all summer, conditioning, attending camp (some went to two camps) and open gym play.
"No concerns with my team, we're all just trying to figure out the changes by moving to Old Oregon. We have all the tools to do well this year, even though we really don't know much about several teams in the Old Oregon League," Hayes said.
Joseph opens at Cambridge, Idaho, Friday.
The jamboree at Union last Friday provided a glimpse of the Panthers this season.
Coach Jennifer Teeter said by the end of the jamboree the Panthers were gaining confidence and were making improvements.
That is going to be important for the younger players.
"The main thing is that we're looking at getting the young players experience and as much playing time as they can," Teeter said.
She said the young players need to get more comfortable.
On the team are seniors Kaylee Noyes and Sarah Hill; juniors Mandy Griffin, Emily Westover and Shandi Lovins; sophomores Stacey Clinkenbeard, Judi Cline, Janell Bartell, Megan Matthews and Sierra Tristan; and freshman Katie Griffin.
Those who may see playing time on the varsity are sophomores Nicole Crow, Haley Larsen, Dani Anderson; and freshmen Liz Eckstien, Amanda Bigej, Brittanie Crook, Megan Myers and Sam O'Donald.
Imbler opens against Crane in Burns Friday.
A rebuilding year is in store for the Badgers.
"Right now, I'm basically very pleased with what they have done so far," first-year coach Riki Abrego said.
Abrego said she has a good core of athletic girls who are catching on to the new routines offensively and defensively.
On the team are seniors Alisha Thompson, Caitlin Miguez and Kris Wendt; juniors Dana Russell, Hailee Bingham, Jennifer Casper, Kali Miller and Tara Fuhrman; sophomores Kaitlyn Browne, Kelsey Smith and Mikelle Feik; and freshman Kandra Clark.
Also possibly seeing playing time on varsity are freshmen Haley Miguez and Erica Holman, and sophomores Savannah Shroyer and Jill Anderson.
Assisting Abrego is Hilary Cox.
Powder Valley opens the season at Council, Idaho, Friday.
The Leopards have set their goals high this season, coach Darcy Johnson said.
On the team are seniors Ashley Holland, Jess Cain, Kinsey Keagle, Alison Tanaka, Cassie Mills and Ashley Strickland; juniors Kara Mann and Julia Scheele; and sophomores Christina McGilvray and Casey Reece-Kaigler.
"They're looking really good," Johnson said. "They're looking competitive. They look focused. They are ready to go."
Johnson said she has been pushing them hard in practice and everyone is doing more than she asks them to do.
"I think they will come out and feel they have a lot to prove," she said.
Johnson said the Leopards are confident, but very humble with great attitudes.
Cove hosts a tournament Saturday.