Entering the season without all-league winners Kyrsten Sprouse and Madisen Davis, along with all-league and all-state recipient, Jada Myers, the South Wasco County volleyball team had seven of 12 players stepping up to play varsity ball for the first time ever.
The Lady Redsides won 19 games and matched last season’s league win total, finished second at districts and earned a home playoff match.
Wednesday, the dream season came to an end, as Wallowa came away with a 25-16, 20-25, 25-15 and 25-18 victory in Maupin.
“Obviously, I am a little sad because it is my last game with this team and I love them very much,” said first-team all-league winner and senior, Reese Millis. “I am very proud of this team and how far we have come and how hard we played. I love each and every one of these girls and I know great things are ahead of them.”
Stepping up as senior leaders, Millis and Laurynn Davis were the lightning rods for this program under first-year coaches Susie Miles and Shelley Iverson.
“They really love this team and the two of them are great role models and the way that they act on and off the court is something all of us can look up to,” sophomore Holly Miles said. “They really stepped out of their sisters’ shadows. Personally, playing with them has been so much and I am going to miss them like crazy. After what they showed us, now, we know that we can do it.”
The Redsides converted 73 of 75 serves for a 97.3-percent clip with Holly Miles, Hailey Anderson, Jade McCoy and Davis all serving at a perfect rate.
With her vaunted jump serve, Holly Miles was 14 of 14 and also led the team with four blocks.
Davis posted a team-high 11 kills, Anderson had seven and McCoy went off for six kills.
Learning on the fly and developing skills, the Redsides have a large group of returners set to make another deep playoff run and coach Miles will further bolster her roster from the record 23 players she had in her program.
“I think we are going to do great next season and I think we are all going to want it more, even more than we wanted it this season, because we had a lot to live up to this year,” Anderson said. “It is going to take hard work, teamwork, doing the fundamentals and the small things and all of us coming together because that’s what counts.”
Davis, a first-team all-league winner in her senior campaign, soaked in the small elements of team sports to make her a better player and person down the road.
“It taught me a lot. I have spent my entire life here and being a part of this program has taught me how to be a leader,” Davis said. “I know my friends will always have my back and basically they are your family. They grow up next to you and we cheer each other on. It taught me the sense of family, with all of us developing trust in each other.”
Dufur loses in state opener
In one season, the Dufur Rangers put together a solid playoff run with the help of five seniors and eclipsed win overall and league win totals for first-year coach Teresa Morris.
At Damascus Christian Wednesday, the Rangers could not get the bounces to go their way in a three-set sweep loss by scores of 25-7, 25-15 and 25-12.
“These girls worked hard and gave it everything they had for me and Kim (assistant coach Kiser),” Morris said. “This team is still very young and inexperienced, but they showed that the future is bright in Dufur. I look forward to continuing to work with them and getting them back to state.”
Zoe Hester and Grace Lindhorst will be the new seniors next year and they will be surrounded by six incoming juniors, so the foundation is being built.
Losing seniors Kalie Ellis, Maddy and Reghan Smith, Mikayla Kelly and Trinity Blake will be a big blow, but Hester likes the dynamic of her team, especially with Madison Malcolm, Jadyn Fargher, Emily Crawford, Piper Neal, Brooke Beachamp and Hester as the main core returners.
“We have a bunch of girls who can play anywhere and help the team,” Hester said. “We all want to win and we all want to work hard. We finally got to state and I know we want to get back next year and the year after. If we can stay with it, we can go far.”