Lady Celt Keri Stein watches as her spike sails past Oly defenders in the team’s Central Valley Conference opener Tuesday, Sept. 21. McNary won in three games. Keizertimes/ERIC A. HOWALD

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A burst of energy faded too quickly for the McNary High School varsity volleyball team to hold out against Sheldon High School.

Sheldon won the home court match in four games, 16-25, 25-22, 32-30, 25-19.

“We were up there with them skillwise, we just ran out of gas and they didn’t,” said Simona Arnautov, a McNary senior.

The Celts coasted to a win in the first match by surprising the Fighting Irish.

“They had no idea we were going to come out as strong as we did and that really helped in the first game,” said Madi Cavell, a McNary senior.

The turning point came in the third match.

“It was a long 32-30 battle,” said Dustin Walker, McNary head coach. “Take away a few points and unforced errors here and there and it could have gone the other way.”

Cavell lead the team in kills, 27, and blocks, five. Junior Deven Hunter added 16 kills and four blocks. Arnautov recorded three aces and Whittley Harrell chalked up 25 digs.

The Lady Celts entered Central Valley Conference play with a 3-0 win over Sprague High School.

Walker and the team are on the lookout for tough competition throughout the league.

“We’ve got some brand new coaches with a lot of tools and talent,” he said.

McNary’s preseason record, 1-2, isn’t as shiny as some, but the team competed well with teams that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, Cavell said.
“The way we fought against Sheldon and Sunset proved we can view other teams as equals instead of unstoppable forces, especially if we have the willingness to work hard all the time,” she said.

The team is better offensively than last year’s team, Walker said, but he’d like to see the Celts clean up their handling of the ball on defense.

“We need to take care of things on our side of the net and ratchet down the number of unforced errors we’re seeing,” he said.

Headed into the conference games, the best defense will be preparedness, Arnautov said.

“We have to expect anything and everything,” she said.

McNary hosted North Salem High School Thursday past press time and will travel to West Salem Tuesday, Sept. 28.

McNary’s junior varsity team defeated Sheldon 25-11, 23-25, 15-6; the Celtic freshman team defeated Sheldon 25-15, 28-26.