By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity volleyball team lost seven players to graduation in June, but head coach Dustin Walker hasn’t lowered his expectations at all.
“We wanted to get to the playoffs last year and we did that. There are a lot of good teams out there this year, but this is a team that can make it to the playoffs again,” Walker said.
The Celts split the conference title with Sprague High School last season and made it to the Top 8. They dropped games to Sunset and Sheldon high schools in the playoffs. The Lady Celts’ record was 11-1 in league and 14-3 overall.
“We have some girls who have been in the program for three years and they bring with them a real sense of tradition and history. Mixing that with all the new faces is a neat thing to watch happen,” Walker said.
It’s been a fun experience bring ing new players into the fold after such a rich experience last season, said Madison Cavell, a senior.
“Everyone working and coming together as a team and seeing what McNary volleyball is all about,” Cavell said.
She’s hoping the good vibes translate into sharp practices in the team’s lead-up to their opening game Tuesday, Sept. 7. The Lady Celts host Lincoln High School at 7 p.m.
“We’re always known for being good defensively, hustling for everything and never letting balls drop,” Cavell said.
Despite being a preseason match-up, junior Deven Hunter wants the team to make a statement out of the gate.
“Starting off big sends a message that we’re going to go hard and strong the rest of the season,” Hunter said.
Walker is impressed with the improvement of both Cavell and Hunter as power hitters over the past year and is looking to senior Simona Arnautov to provide some balance to the team as a setter. He expects senior Keri Stein to come into her own this season as she steps out of the shadow of the seniors who graduated.
“Keri has been playing really well this year,” Walker.
Stein, on the other hand is expecting great things from the varsity team’s youngest talent, freshman Kimberly Moisan.
“I’m excited to see Kimberly in our upcoming games. I’m sure she’ll do awesome,” Stein said.