Depth has Rams at the top of the heap

With seven seniors, Central Catholic is ranked No. 1 in 6A
by:  L.E. BASKOW, Central Catholic’s Audrey Brockman (middle) spikes a ball over the net between Reynolds’ Kelsey Kai (left) and Bonnijien Reams. The Rams won in three games, 25-15, 25-18, 25-16.

Some of the best matches for Central Catholic's volleyball team take place on the school's homecourt -and when no opponent is within miles.

'Our practices are really fun, because we've got so much parity on the roster,' coach Rick Lorenz says. 'We have great depth.'

The Rams are ranked No. 1 in the state at Class 6A, for at least 13 good reasons -the number of players on the varsity roster.

Central took second in last year's state tournament to Ashland, which now is in Class 5A. The Rams are no strangers to volleyball success. They won the state title in 2000 and 1997 and have been second seven times in the last 14 years.

Last week, Central won the 28-team Kent (Wash.) Classic, beating two state champions, South Anchorage of Alaska in the semifinals and Selah of Yakima, Wash. Still, there is room for improvement. 'We're not hitting on all cylinders,' Lorenz says. 'We're winning, but not convincingly.'

Play in the always-tough Mt. Hood Conference resumes Monday, when the Rams go to Gresham, which placed third at the state tourney last year.

Central hopes to get back one of its top players, Arielle Bettendorf, who has been out this week with bronchitis.

The 5-11 Bettendorf, a fourth-year player, is one of seven seniors on this year's team. The co-captains are 5-11 Carly Corrado and 5-10 Sarah Kelleher. Bettendorf and Kelleher made the all-state tourney team a year ago. Other seniors are 6-0 Audrey Brockman, 5-10 Aria Nojima, 5-11 Sam Klar and 5-6 Jill Solazzo. Brockman and Bettendorf were all-tourney at Kent.

The junior class is represented by 5-8 Ellie Trebelhorn, 5-5 Alex Graham, 5-8 Alli Scheehean (battling a kidney infection), 5-6 Lauren DeGrandmont and 5-7 Kristin Stickell, a transfer from Gresham who used to live near Central.

The only sophomore is 6-0 Lily Wygal.

Some other good volleyball programs, including Marshfield, Thurston, Bend and Crook County, are in 5A and will compete in their own state tournament. But the Rams are playing some of them during the season, and the final eight teams in both 6A and 5A will play their state tourneys Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 at the University of Portland. 'So, to me, it's like they really didn't leave,' Lorenz says.

• Kevin Love's senior basketball season at Lake Oswego High starts Nov. 27, when the Lakers play in the Sunset jamboree. LO's first preseason game is Dec. 1 at Benson.

The state champion Lakers are scheduled to play Franklin (of Seattle, not Portland) in the Les Schwab Hoop Classic (5 p.m. Dec. 9, Bellevue Community College). Franklin won the Washington big-school title last year.

Lake Oswego also will return to the Les Schwab Invitational at Liberty High in Hillsboro. Other local teams in the 11th annual LSI are Grant, Jefferson, Jesuit, Westview, Aloha and Canby. South Medford and star Kyle Singler also are entered, along with Oak Hill Academy of Virginia.