McNary outside hitter Maddox Snider goes up for a kill in a match against South Salem last season. Snider, a senior, will be one of the top players for the Celtics this season (File).

After going 11-2 during the shortened spring season, the McNary volleyball squad has been itching to get back on the court since April. But according to head coach Crystal DeMello, what the team is most looking forward to is having fans back in the stands for the first time in nearly two years.

“It is a big deal. They are really excited to have their friends and family back in the stands. I think they appreciate the crowd more now,” DeMello said. “I couldn't be more grateful. I think it's amazing on all fronts and that it is so good for our student athletes.”

The Celtics had an up-and-down season in 2019. Despite finishing four games under .500, they did qualify for a playoff spot. Last season, however, McNary played like they had something to prove.

“We came into the season really hungry and it just created some great chemistry for the team. It meant a lot for them to be on the court together. We lost some large senior roles, but these girls are more than ready to step in and play together,” DeMello said.

While the Celtics did lose three seniors from last year's squad, McNary does return the majority of their roster, led by junior setter Maddison Corpe and senior outside hitter/middle blocker Maddox Snider. Both are three-year varsity players that bring great versatility to the court.

“They each bring a different energy to the court and they compliment each other really well,” DeMello said. “The versatility that all of our players have is going to be a tool that we use a lot this year.”

McNary also brings back senior libero Lexi Eldridge, a three-year varsity player, and a pair of other experienced defensive specialists in senior Chloe Farr and junior Isabella Rodriguez.

“Chloe is a really strong DS with a great serve. And Bella's ability to serve-receive will once again be a great asset for us. They are both big assets to our defensive system,” DeMello said.

Along with their court coverage during matches, DeMello also appreciates how Farr and Rodriguez make their teammates better during practice.

“Having multiple talented defenders makes it hard to put the ball down in practice, which makes it more challenging for our hitters,” DeMello said. “I'm really excited for us to grow offensively because of the pressure they will be facing on a daily basis.”

On the outside, senior Emily Lettenmaier is one of the top returning hitters in the Mountain Valley Conference (MVC), while junior Emily Blagg will likely be the team's top middle blocker.

With a team full of upperclassmen, look for this Celtics squad to be one of the best in the MVC.

“We have a lot of strengths in our versatility and depth. I am excited to see what this team is able to do this year,” DeMello said.

The Celtics travel to Sprague for their first match on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]