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LO volleyball team will be tough to top

by: VERN UYETAKE, 
Clockwise from back left: Anna Gornbein, Hannah Niestradt, Sarah Porter, Keri Nielsen, Cassie Mitchell, Tai Locke and Alex Bowen return on an experienced and talented Lake Oswego team.

It's tough to curb enthusiasm when it comes to the Lake Oswego volleyball team this year. That's because the Lakers have seven seniors on this year's squad and 10 returning varsity players from a team that made the playoffs last fall.

It is the most experienced team that coach K.T. Emerson has had and the squad figures to make some noise in the Three Rivers League this year.

Lake Oswego has a strong mix of quickness and power and are 'above average' in terms of height according to Emerson.

The Lakers' primary hitters will be Anna Gornbein, Keri Nielsen, Hannah Niestradt, Cassie Mitchell and Megan Mooney and all but Mooney started on the varsity team last year.

The team also returns two setters in juniors Rachel Novitsky and Amy Carlton, giving the team plenty of experience and depth at that crucial position. Lake Oswego also returns its libero Tai Locke.

Seniors Sarah Porter and Alex Bowen also figure to be key contributors to the team this year. As has been the case for the past few seasons, Lake Oswego will focus on defense.

Locke will carry much of the load on that end but the Lakers also have defensive specialists Latane Cox, Michelle Dolinar, Lindsay Rossman and Claire Underwood.

'We have a lot of depth which makes it more difficult to put the ball away in drills,' Emerson said.

The program itself has plenty of depth with 36 girls at the high school level. Another 40 were at the Lakers' youth camp which bodes well for the future.

'There's a lot of excitement and the girls have been bringing that to the gym,' Emerson said.

Expectations are understandably high this fall. While defending champion West Linn is expected to repeat as league champion with little difficulty again this season, the Lakers could very well vie for the league's No. 2 spot with Lakeridge, Clackamas and Oregon City fighting with them for playoff spots.

And Lake Oswego doesn't have much time to get into form. The team opens play this weekend at the highly competitive Central Catholic jamboree, which will feature most of the state's top teams.

Then the Lakers open league play on the road against rival Lakeridge and follow that match up by hosting West Linn.

Lake Oswego will also play in the David Douglas, South Albany and West Linn tournaments this year which are among the most competitive in the state.

'Our goal is to make the playoffs again. We haven't started very strong in the past so we'd like to get off to a better start this year and be well-prepared,' Emerson said.

Schedule

Sept. 6 at Central Catholic jam.

Sept. 10 at Lakeridge

Sept. 11 West Linn

Sept. 13 David Douglas Tourney

Sept. 16 Milwaukie

Sept. 18 at Oregon City

Sept. 23 Redmond

Sept. 25 at Clackamas

Sept. 27 at S. Albany state prev.

Sept. 30 Putnam

Oct. 2 Lakeridge

Oct. 6 at West Linn

Oct. 8 at Milwaukie

Oct. 11 at Clearwater Classic

Oct. 14 Oregon City

Oct. 16 at North Salem

Oct. 18 West Linn Invitational

Oct. 21 Clackamas

Oct. 23 at Putnam

All league matches at 6:30 p.m. Most tournaments begin at 8 a.m.