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Jaguars set sights on state tournament


Century girls building on the foundation of last season's state tournament appearance

Century has been the class of the Pacific Conference the past two volleyball seasons.

Two league titles. A state tournament appearance in 2013.

After graduating a lot of star power this spring and welcoming a new head coach, the Jaguars have their work cut out for them in trying to three-peat. That being said, there is still a lot of talent on their side of the net.by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Century junior Amber O'Connor (6) celebrates with her teammates after scoring a point in last Thursday’s match.

“We’ve got a good core of five or six girls that have played the last couple years, and they want it, and I know they want it,” coach Jeeni Breen said. “They’ve worked really hard. They’ve been working hard the last couple years to get all that time on the court.”

Breen takes over the program after having worked for three seasons as an assistant coach for her sister Jamie Lentz, who engineered the Jaguars’ recent success. Breen won a state title as a player at West Linn back in 2003.

Also gone, due to graduation, are six members of last year’s team, including all-stars Jordan Deming, Raquel Mellick and Jamie Thompson, as well as Jikuesiah Jones. Deming was the conference most valuable player and an all-state pick in 2012.

“I’m excited. It’s definitely going to be different, just because we don’t have as many big guns as we’ve had in the past,” Breen noted. “But ... I really think that with the way we’re going, we could take anyone on a night. We just need to make sure we’re all ready to go.”

Team mainstays and captains Leighanna O’Connor and all-star setter Kyla Militante-Amper are back. Breen also welcomes junior middle blocker Allie Williams’ return to the fold. Williams started on the team in 2011 but tore her ACL her sophomore season. Cortney Clausen and Shian Labay Young were members of Century’s league title winning squads and are back for their senior seasons, as is Mikayla Woiwor who has moved from libero to outside hitter.

And Breen is feeling good about the potential of Delaney Seitz, a 5-foot-10 freshman middle blocker/outside hitter.

“She already looks better tonight than she did on Tuesday,” Breen said after a loss to Tigard last Thursday. “It’s nice having big height, and she’s very athletic. And she’s so young. It’s going to be a whole other thing when you see her the second half of the season.”

Breen also hopes to soon have the services of junior middle blocker/outside hitter Angie Quiocho, for whom she is waiting for clearance to play after a car accident.

The Jaguars are off to a bit of a bumpy start in 2013. After breezing to a 3-0 win against Hillsboro to open the season, the squad dropped decisions to Tigard, last year’s league runner-up, and Forest Grove, which was a state playoff qualifier in 2012. Breen also expects tough competition from Newberg and McMinnville.

Next week, Century will look get pick up wins when the team entertains Glencoe on Tuesday and travels to Tualatin on Thursday.

“We have the ability to fight for it every night and win that fight,” Breen said. “I told them it’s going to be a lot more hard work, but I think any team in our league is beatable. I don’t think anyone’s unbeatable. I think we just have to fight and work harder to make sure we’re there.”

Liberty Falcons

If the Liberty volleyball team can ever get fully healthy, good things might be in store for the Falcons.

First-year head coach Tara Dolan had to shuffle her lineup frequently in the pre-season due to a number of injuries, but the team is rounding into form in time for the start of Northwest Oregon Conference play, which opened on Tuesday with a three-set win over Milwaukie.

“It was nice to finally get a league game and see where we are and what we need to work on,” Dolan said. “We’re still recovering from some injuries and we’ve been rotating in a bunch of JV players in these early games.”

Liberty’s roster features six seniors who are “all doing great,” according to Dolan, and the outlook could be even better if senior middle blocker Brooke Harvey can return from an ankle injury.

“We’re hoping to get her back,” Dolan said. “If not, that’s a big loss for us.”

The Falcons will also lean heavily on a pair of juniors — libero Amanda Ganate and setter/outside hitter Kelly Meeuwsen.

“Amanda is always hustling and playing hard, and she’s our leader on the court,” Dolan said. “Kelly is only about 5-4, but she’s got some hops.”

The focus for the Falcons this year will be serve-receive and defense, skills that Dolan said are essential for successful volleyball teams.

“Our motto this year is, ‘Offense wins games, defense wins championships,” she said.

While her players would surely love to qualify for the Class 5A state tournament, which will be staged at Liberty High School in November, Dolan said the team’s primary focus is on creating a fun and accommodating atmosphere.

“There’s been a lot of team bonding and the girls are really getting along well,” Dolan said. “That’s the culture I want to instill at Liberty.”