By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.–For most of these current seniors, all they knew is success. It pre-dates a year before their arrival to Cascade High School when the four-peat Oregon West Conference Title streak began and a domiance in the 4A level began.
And with them entering their last few months, looking for one last ride before it’s all said and done, they’ll look to do it again in 2017.
Similar to last season with six seniors, the 2017 version of the Lady Cougars Volleyball too will be senior heavy; about the same amount of seniors as they did last season, those seniors will look to not just continue this dominance this year, but also too continue that dominance beyond 2017 by teaching the younger players how it’s done.
“Do the same thing, win league and get to that Top eight, keep working hard. I think it starts with winning league, like it starts with practicing,”said Lexi Loukajarvi. “It’s working hard, so we have to leave that mark on the underclassman saying that, ‘this is how hard we work. This is how we win league titles. It’s because we work hard and we do put in the effort and it’s just not handed to us and I think that’ll what we’ll do.”
“Just training really hard, practicing really hard,” adds Tori Lewis. “100-percent effort, just shows when we win league.”
On Friday’s morning, as their 7am to 9am practice wraps caps try-out week and the first two days of practice following try-outs, Head Coach Cristina Williams talked about their goals of the day and how they did in achieving those goals. Something that the coach tries to do in order to keep the players minds on the here-and-now instead of floating towards possibilities of what is possibly to come or why they are there so early.
Knowing that the they are the team to beat and know the North Marion’s and Stayton’s are getting close to them at Cascade and Philomath for the conversation of League Champs,
“We just have to work harder, every year. Every year it’s harder work, that’s all I tell them. This morning, we run and they were like, ‘do we have to?’, ‘like absoultely!’ Because everyone’s trying to beat us, we got to work harder and if we slack off now, it’s not going to help us in the long run,” said Williams on adjusting to the ever-growing target on their backs.
Williams spoke to keep them discipline out on the court, day-in and day-out to try to combat what is coming from the other side of the net come this August through October, and that’s where the daily goals come in.
“We do goals every practice,” “They’re High School girls so their focus are like a squirell I feel like, but we do those goals…the one’s we need to work on. So like today it was having positive energy from them.
“It’s Friday, it’s the last day of the week, they’re sore, but I wanted them to push through the soreness and through that tiredness and have that positive energy because there’s going to be days, your going to be playing that fifth-game, your hungry and you want to go home and you got to push through.”
Lewis points to them just fighting together and gel well in order to get to Top 8 in State and continue the streak, and it starts now with the discpline that Williams was talking about.
“The team, we just have to gel together and we’ll have to become a family in order to win league and get to Top 8, we have to stick together and fight,” said Lewis.
Williams wants her team to be more of a defensive team and be more scrappy; and they’ve gained a tall body on the court as Kaelyn Worst’s younger sister Maddy makes the move up to Varsity this year that will help from the defensive end to go with the aspirations to make themselves more defensively sound. The younger Worst is roughly six-feet-tall and will be helpful down by the net for Cascade this year.
Another new name on the roster is Salem Academy’s Jolinn Daviscourt, who transfered over this year and played with the Cougs this summer in summer league
“Amazing,” Williams said of the junior. “She came to all of our Open Gyms and the girls embraced her, it’s like she’s always been with us. She has a great attitude, she’s really good but humbled. She’s very humble and works hard, no complaining, she’s just a hard worker and she’s a workhorse.
“The girls love her, she’s really adapting well to our team.”
And with the first match of 2017 coming up on August 31 on the road against Corbett, they’ll come back from the post-ecplise three-day weekend Tuesday morning doing what they do best:
Embracing the target on their backs.
“I think it just makes us work a lot harder,” said like we realize that we do have that target so we have to push ourselves so we can be better and win league again and push ourselves to be the best so it’ll make us work a little bit harder because we know we have that title riding on the line, so we work a lot harder.” said Loukajarvi.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald