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Banks retooling after state runner-up finish

Banks volleyball sets its sights on another deep run in the Class 4A state playoffs

Even after last year’s second-place Class 4A finish and even though eight returners are back, the Banks volleyball team still has some issues to sort out.

Once again, the Braves are replete with talent — they welcome back two-time Cowapa League player of the year and first team all-stater Megan Bunn, as well as 2014 second team all-state pick MaKenna Partain, among others. Both are team captains this year.

 - Banks senior Megan Bunn (6) celebrates with her teammates during a match on Saturday at the Hillsboro Volleyball Tournament.

But the squad is also adjusting to life without last year’s three key seniors, who contributed not just with their court play but also with their leadership. Two of them, Hannah VanDomelen and Alyssa Chung — the latter a second team all-state setter last fall — have moved on to athletic careers at Clackamas Community College, VanDomelen in softball and Chung in volleyball.

“We have a long ways to go,” said Suzanne Alley, who is co-coaching with Diana Herb again this year, when asked about the team’s progress so far. “We only lost three people, but they were key people, so filling in those positions and having everyone get used to playing around each other in different spots, and then Megan moved from the middle to the outside — even though (they’re) all returners, they’re returners in a lot of different positions.”

As Alley mentioned, one of those changes is sliding Bunn from middle blocker to outside hitter. Junior Mary Schorn, who has played outside hitter, is now taking over at libero. Partain returns at outside hitter, while Madelynn Standley, who plays middle blocker on her club team, will step into that role with Banks.

“We wanted to make sure that we had people on the outside that when we’re out of system, we can still be able to put a setup to outside and have people that can take care of the ball,” Alley said. “And then Maddy ... she’s a true middle, so it just made sense to make that change.”

The Braves are also breaking in two setters — one new and one a returner light on experience — in the 6-2 offense Alley said the team is running.

Senior Kiana Yokoi played on varsity last year, while fellow senior Brittany Janssens has moved back to Banks, where she grew up, after having attended Glencoe. A main focus at this point, Alley said, is getting the setters to talk more.

The rest of the varsity roster includes seniors Nikayla Doane (middle blocker) and Laysia Rosa (defensive specialist), and juniors Grace Buchanan (opposite) and Tori Seed (outside hitter/opposite).

In 2014, the Braves went 29-2, with their only losses coming to state champion Sisters. Alley likes the possibilities with this year’s group, but she noted it will not be easy, as a number of other top teams return quite a few players.

“We have a long ways to go, but if they do the things that we’re pushing them to do, they have the potential to be really good,” Alley said. “Right now, we just don’t know whether it will remain potential or it will be fulfilled.”