Van Well Up For The Challenge

By Jeremy McDonald

DALLAS, Ore.–  It was a rare January afternoon Wednesday in which it wasn’t raining in Northern Oregon.

In actuality, it felt like an April or a late October day with the Sun out and clouds overhead as the Dallas Volleyball squad took to the sand pit next to LaCreole Middle School.  Just getting out and staying active in hopes for a season that is scheduled in a few weeks.

“It’s a lot of fun just coming out here and play.  We got (the sand courts) done at the end of August, I think I was out here every night for like a whole month,” said Junior Kaitlyn Van Well.

For Van Well, the sport has taught her life lessons.  Made friendships out of it and staying in shape as well.  As a freshman, Van Well played out of position, playing opposite side on the right side of the court.  Playing where the Dragons squad needed her as Dallas finished fifth in 2018 before moving back to outside hitter as a sophomore.

“It’s tough getting into the flow of it.  But she’s been an outside before her freshman year so it wasn’t completely new to her, I think it might’ve been hard being a right side her freshman year than it was to transition back,” said Head Coach Kayce Lilley.

Van Well listening to Coach at the start of the open gym at the sand courts at LaCreole Middle School in Dallas Thursday afternoon (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Van Well saw her older sister, Hailey, be Dallas’ workhorse last season as the Dragons went 11-13 overall and 7-9 in the Mid-Willamette Conference.  Missing the playoffs by a game in 2019 as the younger Van Well picked up a thing or two from her older sister playing alongside with her the past two years.

Lilley expects the younger Van Well to be one of the go-to’s once hopefully the season kicks off February 22 after learning from the elder Sister who’s now playing at Southern Oregon University starting this past school year.

“It was really fun to play with my sister and learn.  She’s pretty good, so I got a pretty good example to learn from playing with and at home and practicing,” said Van Well of her Sister.  “Last year we had a lot of injuries, so that didn’t help but it teaches us that no matter how you’re doing…have fun.  Have fun while you’re doing it.  We can definitely improve from last year and hopefully we will improve from last year.”

“She has a year under her belt at the outside.  I think she gained a lot of confidence last year,” said Lilley adds. “This year we’re expecting big things for her if we get to have a season and I think she’s ready to go.  She knows what’s coming and she’s ready.

It’ll be different, but it’ll be fun Van Well said about the chance to be a leader of the team.  Having seen the mountain-top of what the program can do and see how much they worked last year with the adversity they faced; it’ll be fun to see how they do whenever they get to compete again.

“I’ve never really experienced anything like that before and looking back, it was a big experience that I took for granted.  It was fun and hopefully we can do it again.” Said Van Well. “It’s really motivating to see how good we can do so we can give ourselves a goal to look up to that and know how good we can do”

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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