By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—Blanchet Catholic saw their 2017 season end on November 4 to the hands of their rivals in Salem Academy as the Lady Crusaders finished sixth in the 3A State Volleyball tournament in 2017 last season.
But now, having just graduating just one senior in Caroline Ditzler and returning seniors like Kalea Salang, Ally Jones, Haile Otsby and Shelby Halfman from 2017’s 17-9 squad to mix in with Ana Coronado, Kayla and Keva Neidigh, and Peyton Kowlaski to add to a line-up looking to get back to the Elite 8 again this season.
Entering the McKay Tournament, they picked up a tough five set win over Creswell the second game of the season to start the season 3-1 before falling to Portland Christian in a hard fought four set game entering the tournament.
“We had a tough game against Creswell early on in the season, down two sets and winning the next three. That kind of set a precedence for our season of not giving up on any game no matter what the score is,” said Salang. “This past week, we traveled up to Portland Christian and that was probably the best Volleyball we played ever even though it was a tough loss. That game showed us the potential we have.”
They went through pool play and found themselves in the Gold Bracket of the Tournament as they battled host-McKay to three sets (25-12, 12-25, 16-14) before falling to Dallas in close straight sets 22-25, 21-25 as the Cavailers have two more non-league matches versus Molalla (Thursday, September 6) and traveling to Santiam Christian September 13 before starting the new look-PacWest Conference.
And this tournament and these games leading up to Scio on September 18 to start league are crucial as they prepare for that league opener.
“This tournament is good because I’m pretty sure we’re the smallest school here,” said Salang on facing schools at the 4A, 5A and 6A levels. “For us taking a few wins against bigger schools no matter what their ranking or their division, it’s pretty good competition.”
Blanchet is at home Thursday against the Indians with the first serve at 6pm