Seven players return from a team that fell just short of the state tourney last season

by: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Cassie Jarrell returns at middle blocker for a talented and experienced Lake Oswego volleyball team this year. The team has been hampered by injuries early on, including a twisted ankle for Jarrell. When healthy, the Lake Oswego volleyball team could be one of the best in the state this year. But the Lakers have been hit with a series of unfortunate injuries early on, making for a tough start to the season.

The Lakers return seven varsity players from a team that finished second in the Three Rivers League and was one match shy of an appearance at the state tournament.

Lake Oswego recently lost standout hitter Heather Pippus for the season due to a hip injury and middle blocker Cassie Jarrell is currently nursing an ankle injury.

“Heather is tough to replace both physically and emotionally,” said coach Susan Maga, who takes over the team this year after assisting last season.

But the Lakers are still loaded with optimism and, in their season opener, the team knocked off Barlow in four sets, getting a modicum of revenge on the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year.

Senior captain Amy Sohlberg will be called on heavily this year as she takes over at setter. Freshman Gabby Loth will also set for the Lakers and the team is using a 6-2 formation to utilize both of their skills.

“Amy has really taken Gabby under her wing and is doing a great job,” Maga said.

The Lakers are loaded with experience up and down the lineup.

Taylor Beckman figures to be a huge source of the team's offense this year and should be one of the top hitters in the league this season.

“She's been very effective and a solid leader with a great attitude,” Maga said.

Along with Jarrell, Julia Anderson will be one of the team's solid middle blockers while Sydney Padgett returns at libero.

Brooke Proffitt has also been solid early on, filling in at outside hitter.

The team has had to carry a slightly larger than normal squad to make up for some of its early injuries but the experience that the Lakers bring back should give them an advantage.

After only graduating three seniors from last year's team, expectations are high this year as the Lakers look to qualify for the state tournament.

“We have seven returners who know what it felt like to be one match short last year,” Maga said.

Lake Oswego will have to navigate a strong league again this year as both Clackamas and Lakeridge return very strong squads that could be in the top-10 in the state.

“If we can get healthy I think we can compete with some of the best teams around,” Maga said.

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