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Kingsmen will be competitive in the NWOC

Coach Haner says that defense should keep Putnam in most games


Putnam volleyball coach Richard Haner believes he’s got the horses to be competitive in the Northwest Oregon Conference this fall.

“We should be strong defensively and we should be able to compete with anyone in our league,” said Haner. “We are going to be a scrappy team, and that is going to keep us in a lot of games.”

Haner has a good nucleus of experienced players to build around, including six players who saw a considerable amount of varsity action a year ago — seniors Caprial Sides (5-5 libero), Kelsey Laurendeau (5-10 middle blocker), Lexi Greenley (5-9 outside hitter) and Kelsey Knight (5-6 setter); and juniors Zorina Yevtushok (5-5 outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Jennifer Bowers (5-11 middle blocker).

Haner says the defense is led by Sides, a third year starter at libero, 5-6 junior Rachael Hubbard and 5-5 sophomore Lilita Voznyok.

“Rachael played libero in club and is a very good defensive player,” Haner said. “Lilita doesn’t have a lot of experience playing volleyball, but she is a really good athlete.”

Haner said he is hopeful he can find front-row players to replace graduates Katelin Knight and Amanda Burge, and that Kelsey Knight will be able to fill the shoes of graduate Emma Klesser at setter. Katelin Knight and Klesser were both three-year varsity players.

Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are junior Amanda Pool (5-10 opposite-side hitter), sophomores Taylar Schmidt (5-7 outside hitter) and Claire Steward (5-7 outside hitter), and freshman Audrey Stone (5-9 utility).

Steward is a transfer from Parkrose.

“I have some concerns about our offense and putting the ball away,” Haner said. “But I think we can get there. We are focusing on one point at a time and staying close in games. We really believe in needing a total team effort. We have to believe we can win anywhere and against anyone in our league.”

Haner sees St. Helens as the favorite to win the NWOC.

“St. Helens is going to be really good,” he said. “They could make a run at state. They have a couple of really strong hitters and they play really good defense.”

The St. Helens Lions return five players who garnered conference all-star honors last year, led by senior middle blocker Gabby Susee.

The Kingsmen will get an idea of how they stack up in the NWOC this Thursday, when they travel to Liberty for the conference jamboree. Their conference opener is next Tuesday at Wilsonville.

Milwaukie first-year head volleyball coach Amanda Wiedeman said last week that she has a very, very green team, and she is still working on who is going to play where.

“We only have one returning varsity player,” Wiedeman said. “But I’m exited about the turnout, and the work ethic has been phenomenal. They’ve all been there every day, they’re excited to be there, and they’re willing to learn....

“We want to start to build a program. We’re hoping for some wins, and to build confidence.”

Wiedeman said she had 36 girls turn out for tryouts, including 16 freshmen.

This year’s varsity includes four seniors — Sydney Antol, Chloe Attaway, Morgan Webster and Taylor Killian. Antol is the only returning player from last year’s varsity.

Junior Danni Downen and sophomore Sarah Markham, at 5-10, are the tallest players on the team.

Rounding out the varsity lineup are: juniors Chiara Johns, Kelly Taylor, Morgan Webster and Hailey Backenstos; sophomore Maddi Noon, and freshman Bri Ellis.

The Mustangs vie in the Northwest Oregon Conference Jamboree this Thursday. Conference play begins next Tuesday, when the Mustangs entertain Liberty.



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