By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Every year there’s adversity to replace Seniors. Who’s going to step up and who’s going to fill in.
North Salem Volleyball, entering their second season in 5A, went from the old-Greater Valley Conference to probably the toughest conference in the State let lone 5A in the Mid-Willamette Conference. They went 7-16 and finished 19th in the State in a conference that had three Top-5 teams and five Top-15 teams in the same conference.
Entering 2019, the Vikings will be with some big shoes to fill like Marta Jantzi and Eve Manumaleuna with their five returners in setter Raena Hurtado (Senior), Bailey Hagwall (Junior), Isabella Snyder (Sophomore), MacKenzie Durrant (Senior) and Noemi Martinez (Senior) to help carry the momentum over into this season.
For those five, helping the young girls like a Tracy Trinh adjust to Varsity expectations with their Summer League last month helped bring the girls up to speed entering try-outs Monday.
“I think the experience from last (year in) league is definitely going to help the returners help the kids that are coming in new on Varsity. Like ‘hey we got this, we know what to expect’ and I think it’s going to help us be better this year,” said Snyder on the returners being leaders this summer. “It stayed consistent. Girls were coming in, we didn’t have a lot of new people. But we all came together, working as a team no matter what team we were on we all got this together.”
Facing playoff teams like the defending 1A Champions in St. Paul and sixth-place Crosshill Christian, a 2A Kennedy team that finished fifth in 2018 and playing MWC-opponent Dallas twice in Summer League helped with those looks and reps they needed as a team. The Dragons finished fifth in 5A last season.
“I was just amazed; I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. What it was going ot be, how they will they react. We had quite a few JV players on the summer league and Varsity players and I just wasn’t sure how they would handle in stepping up at that level,” said second-year Head Coach Brandi Holmes. “But they did great which makes it difficult for me next week, which is a good thing.”
North was wrapping up their last day of camp Friday at Houck Middle School, their new home for practice this season as the High School builds a new gymnasium on campus. Besides the adversity of replacing graduated Seniors this season, the Vikings also will be facing the adversity of calling another High School ‘home’ this year.
How that’s going to work is whenever a school in Salem as an opening, i.e. host school has an away game, North Salem will squeeze in their ‘home’ games in. Same thing will happen at North for basketball in the Winter. Creating that challenge of focusing up while commuting for a home game.
“I think since we’re going to be in town it’s going to be ok. I think it’s going to be a little bit of a mental challenge for them, but it’s how we make it,” said Holmes. “Wherever we go, we have to have that mentality that this is our house.
“So it’s all about getting mentality for the girls and getting their confidence up no matter where we are. That’s how we’re going to approach it.”
Their season opener against Corvallis will be at McKay High School on September 5 for their ‘home opener’ while their second home game, versus Silverton, will be at West Salem High School on September 16 as the schedule for their home games was finalize Friday with the five 6A schools around Salem.
The Vikings will be at McKay for the Salem-Keizer jamboree August 29.