Back In The Gym

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

AMITY, Ore.-  Friday was a longtime coming for the Warrior Volleyball athletes of Amity.  First-time in the gym as a complete unit coming off weeks of six-person pods with the hopes of this day coming to fruition.

It’s been a rollercoaster of sorts for first-year Head Coach Amanda Grove, who went from having 20/25 players in her open gyms between July and the shutdown in November to the required pods was tough no doubt.  But the uniqueness of the situation at hand had gave her an opportunity to assess the girls who ended up being in the gym on this faithful afternoon in late-February.

“Being a new coaching staff, it was a blessing in it all that we were able to have six months with these girls to learn who they are as players and their abilities,” Grove said.  “Things like that before the season actually started.  So being able to do that for five-months and then being shutdown and only being able to open back up with six-players in the gym, we prayed we would be back together.

“We have a really strong program all the way through.  We have a lot of girls in club and they eat, breathe, love Volleyball and it shows out on the court when they play.”

It truly felt like a first day of practice.  Spring Volleyball or not.  Music playing.  Intra-squad scrimmaging.  The excitement is there knowing that they’ll actually get to be together as a unit, let alone being able to play a single Volleyball game.

Amity went 16-5 in 2019, reaching the 3A State Playoffs for the first time since the 2013-2014 season (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“It feels absolutely amazing,” smiled Brooke Lopez, who is a Junior this year.  “It’s been so long, but it feels so great.”

2019 was a one of those special years for Amity.  Their 16 wins that year nearly matched their win total of the last three years combined of 17.  Postseason for the first-time since the 2013-2014 school year.  Setting a tone that the program had possibly laid a foundation moving forward into this year and into the Fall.

“Last year was good.  I feel like we went super far because of the chemistry that we all have with each other,” Lopez starts.  “This year with some of us being on Varsity for three years, some two, we’ve all played together for almost two years.  We have that same chemistry and now with Amanda as our new coach, she came in and brought us even closer together so I think it’s going to be even better.”

Though they lost four seniors, they have a solid front row and a solid back row pointed Grove.  Sydney Berkey in the middle.  Hailey Vanderzanden is moving to backside; Grove will be looking towards her blocking skills this Spring to go along with Berkey and Riley Stearns.  Stearns returned for her Senior year with Amity, adding some height to the squad this year.

Halee Osburn is moving up from JV, bringing up her strength and her serving ability that Grove described as ‘wicked’.  Kaitlyn Graham on the outside hitter.  Gabby Rolston will be a utility player of sorts, bouncing position-to-position along with her excitement.  Hazel Hoff and Lopez as well will contribute as well.

But they’re not necessarily merging  right into the season as one would hope.  Over three days, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday Amity will be playing in four games.

Of the four in Harrisburg, Junction City, Yamhill-Carlton and Scio coming up this week, three of the four had made it to the postseason in 2019.  The Tigers of YC finished ranked 15th in 3A during the 2019 season, so the challenge will be there to perform.  However, confidence is there that they’ll make it through it together as a team.

“I think it’s going to be ok.  We’ve been separated with six of us in one gym for 45 minutes and six the other half, but overall, we’ve played together for multiple years now.  We know each other for the most, so I think it’ll be ok,” Lopez said.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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