On the heels of two consecutive OSAA Class 4A state tournament appearances, the Banks volleyball team knows that it won't be able to sneak up on anyone this season.
On the heels of two consecutive OSAA Class 4A state tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish last year, the Banks volleyball team knows that it won't be able to sneak up on anyone this season.
'We're not hunting anymore. We're the hunted,' said Banks co-coach Diana Herb.
That is certainly true, and so far this season the Lady Braves have looked every bit like a state championship contender, breezing to a pair of non-league victories last week and also turning in a strong showing at the North Marion Tournament on Saturday, winning two of their three matches in bracket play.
'They're responding well, and their confidence is really high,' Herb said. 'They're not playing like they're scared to lose anymore, they're playing to win.'
If last year's run to the state title match was a bit of a surprise, this year the Braves will wear a target on their backs, especially once Cowapa League play begins this week.
Banks (6-1) tuned up for Thursday's league opener with a pair of convincing victories over Gladstone and Estacada last week. The Lady Braves rolled to a 25-18, 25-21, 25-14 win at home against Estacada last Tuesday, then followed it up with a 25-12, 25-7, 25-11 drubbing of Gladstone on Thursday.
'All around they're progressing as a team and playing well together,' said Herb, whose team also beat Willamette Valley Christian and Mountain View (Wash.) in tournament play on Saturday before losing their first match of the season against Corbett.
'We've still got to work on some stuff, but mostly it's just about being more consistent. The coaching aspect (we're focusing on) is that it takes everything for us to be successful - ball control and team unity and good hitting.'
The Lady Braves open league play at home on Thursday against Seaside, then the team will travel to Sisters on Saturday for another tournament.
'They're doing well. The girls are doing a lot of the stuff that we're expecting from them this year,' Herb said. 'They've been coming in and working hard every practice, and I think they're ready to start league. I think we have a good idea of where we need to be.
'We just want to keep taking steps forward. We don't want to go backward.'