By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Both Sprague and South Salem made deep runs in the 6A State Playoffs in 2017, reaching the final site at Liberty High School this past November.
The Olympians lost a tough five-set game to Glencoe while the Saxons won a five-set contest over Jesuit before sweeping the Crimson Tide to take fourth-place.
Fast forward to August 23, 2018 where both were meeting up at the jamboree at McKay High School with some new and familiar faces.
Emily West made South work with serves at Sprague jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Morgan Doll sent a shot to make it 4-0 Olympians. West lead the charge at server with Sprague scoring the first seven points of the jamboree matchup as the Lady Olys are looking to make another deep run for the Elite 8 again in 2018.
“It’s pretty important, it’s all on top of our heads when we’re practicing and stuff, but we just got to work really well together and I think we’ll be able to do some pretty good things,” said West, as her, Doll, Bridgette Smith, Mackenzie Sessums and Paige Vaughn were on the Varsity roster in the Elite 8 in 2017.
“It’s just really important in this jamboree to really communicate on things that we need to work on and it’s really nice to see playing against other teams instead of playing against ourselves in practice and see how we compare to other teams that we’re going to be playing against this year.”
For the Saxons, they graduated 10 seniors from their fourth place team, three more than their rivals in Orange; but are slowly coming together with Victoria Stafford and Karah Points returning.
Samantha Szmyd got a service ace to make it two straight points as the Stayton-transfer adjust to her new role at a 6A School as the senior is one of the new faces on the Varsity roster this season as they use the intras-squad scrimmage Wednesday and the jamboree Thursday to familiarize themselves with one another and their playing styles.
“At first it was hard because I’m use to a slower paced game and we came into practice and Coach was like, ‘ok, we’re shorter this year, it’s going to be harder for us. But we have to focus on passing’,” said Szmyd. “So it was difficult at first, but then when we had our scrimmage last night, we felt better about it.
“I definitely think we’re going to have to work hard for it. We’re getting used to how we play together. When we first came in, we didn’t know how anyone played so it’s going to be better for us.”
With Bend and Summit coming over from 5A and both finishing one, two respectively in 5A Volleyball in 2017, it’s going to present a challenge for the Salem schools as Sprague opens the season with a double dual with West Salem, North Medford and Roseburg on Tuesday while the Saxons go over the hill to play Summit on August 30.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald