Of the Keizertimes

After going undefeated in their first swing through the Central Valley Conference, the new goal for the McNary High School varsity volleyball team is simple: be better.

“Be better with every touch and against every opponent. Better mentally and better disciplined,” said Dustin Walker, Celtic head coach.

The attitude was on display last week as the girls locked horns with North Salem High School. In the first round of CVC competition, the Vikings were the only team to take a game off the Celts, but McNary won handily in three sets last week, 25-14, 25-16, 25-19.

“It was like redeeming ourselves,” said Celt Simona Arnautov. “It was proof we earned that first win and it wasn’t a fluke.”

“We had to make a statement and we played our hardest the whole way through,” added Madi Cavell, a senior.

Cavell led in kills, 14, aces, 4, and blocks, 4. Deven Hunter put down 10 kills. Whittley Harrell had nine digs and four aces. Arnautov tied Harrell for most digs with nine.

Walker was also pleased with the work and effort of setter Megan Holland who had 31 assists on the night.

“Megan runs the court and distributes the ball and makes better and better decisions every day,” Walker said. “That’s a hard position to play because, like a quarterback, there’s always something that can be done better, but Megan is doing a great job for us.”

Prior to the North Salem game, the Celts donned purple uniforms for a game with Sprague High School. The special uniforms were part of a fundraiser for Sprague student Frida Salinas who is battling pancreatic cancer.

“We knew we couldn’t lose our focus even though we’re doing things a bit differently and we didn’t. We played tough and worked it out,” Cavell said.

The Celts dominated in a first match win of 25-10, but Sprague found their footing and produced a better showing in the team’s second two matches, which went to McNary with scores of 25-19 and 25-17. The games for the freshmen, junior varsity and varsity teams brought in more than $4,000 that will help pay for Salinas’s treatments.

Cavell led in kills, 16, and added four blocks. Hunter had 10 kills and put up five blocks. Holland had 27 assists and Keri Stein had 18 digs.

Many of the girls were anticipating a match with West Salem High School Tuesday, Oct. 19.

“West is still a concern,” said Averi Wing. They were picked to win league, and they’ll come back ready to play.”

Tension was high throughout the game, but McNary won in three sets, 25-11, 25-13, 25-20.

Beyond the remaining games in Central Valley Conference competition, the Lady Celts are slowly turning their focus to potential competition in the state tournament.

“We’re working on preparing ourselves for teams like Sunset and Sheldon and Central Catholic,” Arnautov said. “Basically, we’re expecting everything.”