Banks returns plenty of postseason experience following a third-place finish at last year's state volleyball tourney
Not so long ago, Banks showed up at the OSAA Class 4A state volleyball tournament as a bunch of wide-eyed freshmen and sophomores, overwhelmed by both the atmosphere and the competition. That year, the Lady Braves lost their first two matches and were headed home before the trophies were even handed out.
Three years later, Banks is coming off back-to-back top three finishes at the state tournament, finishing second in 2010 and third in 2011, and those wide-eyed youngsters are now wizened veterans, poised to lead the Lady Braves back to the promised land.
Despite graduating six players from last years team, Banks still returns a wealth of experience, with five seniors on the roster and two juniors who also played varsity last year.
Those returners will be looking to earn Banks its fourth straight trip to the state tournament while also breaking Astorias three-year stranglehold on the Cowapa League title.
If the Lady Braves do extend their string of postseason appearances, the biggest hurdle will almost assuredly come in the form of Crook County, the six-time defending state champions who have ended Banks season in each of the last two years.
Two years ago, Banks battled its way to the Class 4A state championship match only to be rebuffed by Crook County, and last year the Cowgirls took out Banks in the semifinals, again dashing the Braves dreams of a state title.
Still, there is much to build on for the Banks program and its five seniors libero Alexis Chung, setter Aubrey Rue, defensive specialist Alexis Applebee, outside hitter Kaylin Vandomelen and middle blocker Samantha Duyck.
All five players have considerable playoff experience, as members of the volleyball team and also the Braves 2011 state championship softball team and the girls basketball team, which has qualified for the Class 4A state tournament in each of the last two seasons.
Joining that core group will be juniors Taylor Herb and Molly Hammond, plus sophomores Alyssa Chung, Tori Schmidlin, Hannah Vandomelen and
Jojo Wren, and freshmen Megan Bunn and MaKenna Partain.
The Lady Braves will look to work out the kinks by playing in several early-season tournaments, including one this weekend at North Marion.
The Cowapa League schedule will begin on Sept. 20 with a road trip to rival Yamhill-Carlton.