By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Filling four seniors who played an important role in helping your team win a State Championship is no easy task to fulfill, especially at setter.
But for incoming junior Haley Krieger, she’s used this Summer to fill the void of recent graduate Bailey Pedersen as the Crusaders entered the second day of their Team Camp Tuesday evening at Salem Academy. Krieger has some setting experience in the past and was the back-up setter as she assumes the starting spot in the Salem Academy lineup.
“I’ve been setting for a longtime, but I’ve never been the main setter. I’ve always been the back-up setter, but we’re doing a 4-2 and it’s been really good. Yeah I’ve had to communicate more with Lexi (Herber) and a lot of ‘oh shoot. I have to go get it because that’s me’,” Krieger said. “But it’s been good, it was a lot of fun. It was a good fun switch because I love setting.”
It’s been a Summer of growth as the Crusaders finished second in the Sunset Summer League Championship Bracket where they fell to Cascade in the Championship Game between the two defending State Champions. Despite losing Pedersen, Annabelle Brawley, Aubrey Smith and Dylainee Carmony, Salem Academy’s returning six from their 2A State Championship team, which was their first since 1995.
“It’s good, we just need to work on what we’re gaining and what’s different from last year,” Herber said. “We needed (Summer League) for sure. We needed to work on our stuff with our new players and the rotations and stuff. We just need to work as a team.”
“Winning State was obviously a confidence boost, but we lost a lot of great leaders so we needed people to step up…myself included into a leadership position. It was definitely a big shift because we’re a younger team, we were a very senior heavy team last year,” adds Krieger. “Now we have a lot of juniors, we have a couple of seniors and there’s some sophomores and some freshman. It’s a big change and a lot of fun because all these girls are great, they’re all like family.”
And the rest of this week and the two ‘official’ weeks of practice that are ahead will go a long way in setting up them working on the little things leading up to their jamboree at South Salem and their opening day twin-bill at Cascade Christian against the Challengers and Vale at the end of the month.
And as they prepare for that August 25 and that doubleheader two days later, the Crusaders hope to use their Summer League success and bridge it into the season ahead.
“It was good because we were playing some 4A teams and a 5A team there, so it bonded us really quickly because we were like ‘ok, it’s happening. We’re not going up against easy teams. We’re going up against difficult teams that are going to challenge us. Now we have to trust each other and so it built a lot of trust,” Krieger said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald