by: PHIL HAWKINS - Former Gervais volleyball player Emily Schott will take over the Cougars volleyball program this fall.The departure of long-time Gervais volleyball coach Becky Miller left a large hole in the Cougars’ program that had been fairly stable for the past decade.

In Miller’s place, Gervais is hoping that new coach Emily Schott can provide the same mentorship as she leads the Cougars volleyball team for the 2013 fall season.

“The girls are super excited in general, and it’s really cool to walk in and take over a program like that,” said Schott. “I’m beyond excited, I cannot stress that enough.”

Schott, who played volleyball at Gervais a decade ago, has a variety of coaching experiences, from club and middle school volleyball, to other organized sports.

Most recently, she comes to Gervais after spending time in Corvallis coaching at the club level and for the city’s parks and recreation department, where she worked with middle school-age students.

Schott takes over a Cougar program that is in a period of transition after graduating five seniors from last year’s playoff team that went 13-8 before losing in the first round.

This year’s team boasts just five upperclassmen compared to three sophomores and three freshmen. Although the Cougars face a lot of difficulty in building experience due to the lack of time on the court compared with some of the other more experienced teams in the West Valley Conference, Schott is excited to get the chance to work with some of her younger athletes for two, three, even four years.

“The advantage is lots of time to work with them,” said Schott. “They’re very talented.”

For this season, Schott will lean on seniors Jaime Jensen and Olivia Ruiz, along with juniors Cassidy Rush, Valeria Vargas and Emily Saalfeld to help guide the younger athletes in the program and show what the team needs to do to succeed in conference play.

“We have some upperclassmen that will show them the ropes,” said Schott.

The older athletes will also be available to help Schott get to know the team, as she is learning who her athletes are while coaching them for the first time.

“It’s a little bit difficult to come in somewhat blind, but at the same time, I didn’t have any preconceived notions,” said Schott. “I felt that all the girls had a shot to make varsity.”

The Cougars have already started the season, opening the year on Thursday with a 3-1 loss at Sheridan High School.

“There was a lot of good things,” said Schott. “We had awesome serving, which was really encouraging. Our freshman is a setter (Naomi Saalfeld), and she did outstanding. Even just knowing their position on the court — they were great.

“We came out looking awesome. Mentally, we kind of let them get the best of us. We’re ready to bounce.”

Gervais was scheduled to continue the season on Tuesday against Willamina and will face Dayton for the team’s home opener on Thursday.

Regardless of how the season goes, Schott is looking forward to working with her athletes for this year and the years to come.

“I think they bring a lot of enthusiasm,” said Schott. “They’re very athletic and very coachable. We have a great team.”

by: SETH GORDON - St. Pauls Carolina Ruvalcaba dips low to return the ball in the Buckaroos first game of the season against Casco League rival Veritas.St. Paul 3, Veritas 0

A year after squeezing out a 3-2 victory against Veritas at Open Bible School, St. Paul kicked off the 2013 campaign with a sweep of the Vanguard Sept. 3 at their new home court at Chehalem Valley Middle School.

The Bucks (1-0 overall, 1-0 Casco League) cruised to relatively easy 25-13 and 25-12 wins in the first two sets before Veritas (0-1, 0-1) eliminated many of its own errors and pushed back against the visitors, dueling on many long rallies before falling 25-21 in the third.

“I think we played well,” head coach Lesli Hiller said. “We had some ups and downs and have to work on our intelligence of the game, reading the hitters a little bit more, knowing where to set and that kind of thing and blocks too. We had some really good touches on some blocks, but if would have had a little different timing, we would’ve gotten the block.”

The match was an emotional one for senior middle blocker Delaney Sump, who used to attend Veritas and was pleased to open the season against her former school. She went 15-for-16 hitting with 10 kills and added three digs and one ace in the victory.

“We started communicating better than we have in the past, or at least in practice so far,” Sump said. “We started cleaning it up, especially in the second game, really bringing our passes to target instead of just being all over the place. And we were swinging at almost everything and getting some power behind it. It never works out when you just bump it over, so that was good not really playing down, but playing up.”

Sara Pierson, Alex Coleman and Emma Coleman contributed six, five and four kills, respectively, while setters Kennedy Smith and Remy Brentano had strong outings as well. Smith went 13-for-13 on serves with two aces and passed out 12 assists, with Brentano going 15-for-15 with a pair of aces and eight assists. Sophomore Cameron Stone led the back line with six digs.

“I’m pleased with how we did,” Sump said. “I think we were a little nervous that we wouldn’t bring our hardest. I think we definitely pushed ourselves, but we have a lot to work on.”

The Bucks hosted Jewell on Monday (results unavailable at press time) and will square off at home against Country Christian, which placed third in the league and qualified for state a year ago, at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

— Seth Gordon

Kennedy 3, Santiam 0; Culver 0, Kennedy 3

The Trojans volleyball team extended their winning streak to three games last week against league rival Santiam, only to be beaten by Culver two days later in a 3-0 sweep.

Kennedy (3-1, 1-1 Tri-River) was once again bested by the Culver?Bulldogs, who won two of three matches in 2012, including a 3-1 victory over the Trojans in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Kennedy was scheduled to play at Regis Monday and host Waldport Tuesday before playing at home against Toledo Thursday.

The Trojans will play host to a variety of teams from the Willamette Valley this weekend at their annual Oktoberfest Tournament.

McKay 3, Woodburn 0

The Bulldogs lost their opening game of the season at McKay on Tuesday. Woodburn (0-1) is scheduled to host West Albany Tuesday, followed by a Thursday game against Silverton.

Tillamook 3, North?Marion 1

Thursday’s trip to the coast was not fruitful for North Marion’s season-opening game against the Cheesemakers.

The Huskies (0-1) were scheduled to return home Tuesday to face Astoria, followed by a Thursday game at Seaside and a home tournament on Saturday.

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