By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– The senior-heavy Gervais Cougar Volleyball team kicked off Monday morning’s practice looking to carry over the momentum from a strong 2021 season and a strong Summer season, the Cougars return the core of their 9-12 squad going into Fall Camp. Having only graduated Sarah Saafeld from that squad last year.
The Boyd sisters of Izzy and Olivia return, as do the McCargar sisters of Lilly and Addy. Josie Schultz and Natalie Gieselman and others were in attendance during Monday mornings practice as they look to build off of the foundation that they set over the past 12 months.
“Last year was a really good foundation and it was awesome to see what we could do as a team and we’re going to build on that this year,” Boyd said. “The Summer League was awesome for us to prepare for the regular season. It helped us reconnect as a team and get ready for us to start practicing and get into games again.”
“It was actually really helpful,” adds Lilly McCargar about Summer League. “During Summer League, that was the best that we’ve played as a team in a really long time. We’ve had a bunch of coaches and people watching at the games we’ve played at Salem Academy and were like, ‘you guys are doing so good. Better than I’ve seen you do’. We felt more like a team as a whole than as individuals. That whole being able to play Summer League really brought us together and it was a fun experience.”
The bulk of the three-week Summer League schedule had Gervais at Salem Academy in Salem, they played two games in Scio however on July 19 before the 15-team league were split up into different ‘playoff’ brackets the next week.
Summer League gave them lessons to work on the next two weeks going into their Jamboree up in Mill City. Communication, attitude and back-row passes Boyd said.
“A lot on our backrow passing and defense especially are going to be some key points for us this year,” chuckles Boyd. “Get those serves in and that’s about it.”
And with the bulk of the returnees being seniors, it’s an odd-feeling for sure going into the season, but nonetheless this senior group with the Cougs are hoping to leave their mark and have some fun while they’re at it.
“Most of us are seniors, so it’s a lot of the ‘last year feelings’ and we want to enjoy it together. I think they’re nervous for us to leave because we’ve been here with them this whole time. But being able to have that leader feeling and what we’re feeling for all the other girls, I think it’ll be good for (the younger kids) and help them improve for when we’re gone,” McCarger said. “And that feeling of having people look up to them is good for them I think.
“We’re just trying to lighten up this year and just have more fun. So when we’re all playing on the court, it’s just fun and not stressful and up-tight and nobody’s mad at each other. So we’re just trying to keep it lowkey but professional. We’re just trying to find fun things to do to give us the feeling of ‘we’re good on the court. We know how to play, let’s have fun.”
Gervais’ first game of the year after the jamboree will be August 30 at Jefferson. The first home game for the Cougars will be on September 8 against South Umpqua.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald