Settling Back In

By Jeremy McDonald

STAYTON, Ore.–  Best way to describe the Spring 2021 season would be chaotic for the Stayton Eagles Volleyball team.

New Head Coach in Ruth Palfenier.  The Pandemic throwing a monkey-wrench into both the new coach and her new team settling in with one another with the restrictions and the uncertainty if they’ll even get a match in. 

But when they did, they stepped up to the challenge in front of them with a 7-4 overall season and 3-3 in the tough Oregon West Conference.

“I didn’t know what to expect for that season, so getting into it and getting those wins.  It wasn’t what I expected and it felt even better having it be a surprise,” setter Maddy Mitzel said.

“We had a great season.  It was great to just jump right back into the season…It’s really like they didn’t really stop, which is nice.  They kept playing,” Palfeiner adds.  “But we only had five returners, essentially we had to build up a whole new team.”

Stayton, in Palfeiner’s first-year as Head Coach leading the program, went 7-4 in the six-week Spring season back in March. (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Entering her sophomore season at the helm of the program, Palfeiner was able to go through a normal off-season with her team.  Open gyms.  Camp and try-outs on the heels of her freshman season as Head Coach.  Looking to fill those holes left by the Seniors from this past season.

“I feel like the tone of this season is entirely different than last season because we came into it settled instead of rolling with it essentially,” Palfeiner said.

Surprisingly, a big wave of freshmen came out when try-outs started last Monday. 

Roughly a dozen came in for try-outs with two, Kenzie Hollenbeck and Laina Atiyeh, making the Varsity roster.  Kailey Sitton (Outside Hitter), Sarah Davis (Middle Blocker) will be expected to step up as well.  Lydia Bielenberg showcased some power during the intrasquad scrimmage with the JV Monday morning.  

Jessica Lemibach, Mary Weitman and Mitzel each played full-time in the Spring with Mitzel returning as setter.

It’s tune-up week for everyone with games starting in a few days.  Stayton’s traveling to Estacada Thursday for a jamboree with the Rangers, Cascade and North Marion with the Eagles first game of the season August 31 against Scio.  So, any reps between now and next Tuesday to work on fine tuning the details are going to be crucial from the intrasquad scrimmaging to the jamboree.

Pushing themselves to a higher-level points Mitzel.  They got the communication, the serves and hitting down.  It’s just a matter of building that connection and finding their consistency on the court with one another.

“This is when we learn everything, this is where we get the refinement and that’s throughout the whole season,” Mitzel said.  “But right now it’s team bonding, we need a connection with each other so we have a connection on the court.”

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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