By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s 2018 volleyball team won’t look the same on any given night and that’s exactly how Crystal DeMello, entering her second season as head coach, likes it.

“The girls are well-versed in volleyball so if we want to run different offenses or defenses, we’re able to implement changes mid-game,” DeMello said.

“Most of the girls play more than one position and that’s always a key to matching our opponents, versatility is definitely an asset.”

The Lady Celts return seven girls from last year’s varsity squad that finished 10-13 overall and fourth in the Greater Valley Conference—seniors Sofia Zielinski, Kara Thomas, Hannah Corpe and Gabby Shepherd, juniors Zoie Warner and Chloe Diede and sophomore Taylor Ebbs.

Thomas and Warner were both GVC All-League honorable mention selections last season.

“I have several returning players who started most of last year and players that are new to varsity were leaders on our JV team. I know we have the leadership that’s required for successful season,” DeMello said. “All of them are competitors and I expect them to challenge each other every day in practice.”

McNary has 42 girls in its volleyball program, 14 on each team—varsity, JV and freshman.

Dividing up the three teams wasn’t easy.

“It was a long tryout,” DeMello said. “We’re carrying the largest squad that we can at every single level because tryouts were extremely competitive.

“They know each player has skills we need as a team, each player is key to pushing our limits. They have to compete every time they step on the court or their spot is in jeopardy. It creates competition and that is always good.”

Playing in the new Mountain Valley Conference, the Lady Celts will be tested early.

McNary travels to Bend, winner of the 2016 and 2017 5A state championships, on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Summit, the state runner-up in 2017 and champion in 2015, then comes to Keizer on Thursday, Sept. 6.

“They’re very competitive and strong,” DeMello said. “It doesn’t matter that they’re coming from 5A. They are strong programs. It will be good for the girls to start the season with them. We are looking forward to it.”

The Lady Celts open the 2018 season at home on Tuesday, Aug. 28 against Mountain View.x