By Jeremy McDonald
DALLAS, Ore.– Grace Hannan has had some great role models playing on Varsity the last two years as the setter of the Dallas Volleyball program. They’ve all helped each other out of tight jams along the way, but there’s a sense of pride with the incoming Dragons junior in playing with some great talent the past few years since she stepped on the Varsity Court back in the Spring of 2021 in having those role models for her to look up to as she had.
In a way, as Hannan described the past two years, it felt like it’s taken a village not just to help to adjust and develop, but for them as a team to do the same to live up to the high standards that are set for the program year-in and year-out.
“It’s helped me lead because I’ve helped them out of tough situations and they’ve helped me out of tough situations. Playing with such great athletes like them, it’s just like role models to look up to and I want to do better for them and I’m excited for this year because Liv (Hale) and Hannah (Callaway) I feel like are going to really destroy the court and I’m so excited to see what they’re going to do,” Hannan said. “It’s going to look really good for our team I feel like. I feel like we got a pretty good back row and with (Hale and Callaway) in our front row and me setting, I feel like we have a really solid team.
“It’s cool that I’m the setter and I’ve gotten to set since freshman year and be in the same program as Tristan (Savage) was or Haley Van Well and to play with Haley’s sisters is pretty cool. (Assistant Coach) Kat (Crum) and (Head Coach) Kayce (Lilley) both have helped me a lot because they were setters, so they’ve helped me prepare to play with those types of people.”
Coming into the program as a freshman, Hannan was coming off of Middle School Volleyball with no club experience onto the Varsity court right out of the gate during the six-week Covid season back in the Spring of 2021. The Dragons went 5-7 that season, but it was a nice sigh of relief going into her sophmore season in being able to get her feet wet as she was part of the Dallas squad that went 15-11 and reached the postseason for the first time since the 2018 season.
“The six-week season was nice because I went from Middle School volleyball and not doing any club sports to playing with the Varsity out of the gate. So having Open Gyms and having that six-week season, it helped me adjust to the speed of the game and everything,” starts Hannan. “Playing with the older kids definitely has helped me step up to another level. To play at the same speed as them.”
The short season allowed Hannan to see some 6A talent with McNary, West Salem and South Salem, all three went to the playoffs this past Fall with the Saxons reaching the Elite 8 before falling to Central Catholic in five sets. Mix in with the highly competitive Mid-Willamette Conference and it gave Hannan a lot of opportunities to perfect her craft and get better as the squad wrapped up their third day of team camp Wednesday morning.
“I feel like it boosts our confidence because we can play with bigger schools than us and 6A schools that are really good. Especially with our tough league, I feel like it not only boosts my confidence, but with the rest of the team that we can hang with anybody and play anywhere,” Hannan said. “Our league is pretty tough, just seeing the competition that we have and to play against them and seeing how our team is going to do in the tournaments we’re playing and how playoffs goes and stuff.”
Going into her junior year, Hannan knows the importance for her to continue to develop as a leader under girls like Callaway and Hale knowing that her turn is coming sooner rather than later to assume that leadership role on the court.
“I’m going to have to prepare the other kids in my grade, because I feel like a lot of them are going to have to step up to fill their shoes. I feel like that’s going to help me be a leader because I’m going to have to take charge being on the team the longest,” Hannan describes. “So just being that leader and role model, helping them step up.”
Dallas opens up the season with a jamboree on August 25 before traveling to West Albany on September 6 to start MWC play and kick-off the regular season. Dallas’ first home game will be September 8 against Corvallis.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald