September 04, 2003 11:00 pm
PAIR OF CANNONS: La Grande front-line players Kaci Lyman (9) and Kathryn Ely (5) are back for the Tigers this season. (The Observer/File photo).
PAIR OF CANNONS: La Grande front-line players Kaci Lyman (9) and Kathryn Ely (5) are back for the Tigers this season. (The Observer/File photo).

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

The secret's out.

The La Grande volleyball team isn't anonymous anymore. Everyone in Oregon last year found out the hard way just how good the Tiger girls were.

The scary thing is for the Greater Oregon League and for the rest of the 3A teams in the state, the Tigers just might be more powerful this year.

La Grande is experienced, balanced, committed and big, according to coach Teresa Dowdy.

"We have a couple of cannons and a few pistols," said Dowdy.

Dowdy said what she enjoys so much about her players is their enthusiasm and dedication.

"They're fun to coach and fun to watch," she said. "I haven't had to get after them at all to work hard."

Last year, La Grande wasn't a highly regarded team, at least not early. La Grande wasn't ranked in the top 10 in the state until the final week of the season.

Despite the lack of recognition, the Tigers quietly stormed through the Greater Oregon League, shared a league title with Burns, then continued to pound their way right through the playoffs. La Grande lost just one match — barely — at the state tournament and finished third at state, the Tigers' highest finish ever at 3A.

Dowdy said she kind of likes being the underdog, but acknowledges that after the Tigers' accomplishments last year, that probably isn't going to happen this season. La Grande very well could be in the top 10 when rankings come out next week.

Dowdy thinks Burns and Vale will be tough in the GOL this year.

The Tigers lost setter and league MVP Danielle Tams to graduation, as well as front-line player Kelli Greenough.

Stepping into the starting setter's role this year will be Amanda Timm, a veteran of last year's squad.

Last year, other coaches in the GOL and sports editors spoke of how physical and intimidating the Tigers were. Though Greenough was a big hitter, the Tigers will throw an imposing triad of 6-footers at their opponents this season.

Patrolling the front line will be skywalkers Kathryn Ely and Kaci Lyman. Joining them will be a 6-2 sophomore Morgan Bonney and a 5-11 transfer from Washington, Darcy Dolge.

Dowdy said the most improved player on the team might be Caylin Goss.

Dowdy also likes the team's defense. Defensive specialists Katelin Weaver and Stephanie Keith. Other players include Laura Martin, Breezy Fredricksen, Bethany Herman and Joellyn Hasse.