Andrew Clifton looks to keep the Saints on top in his first season at Mt. Hood

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK: FILE PHOTO - Mt. Hood CC has been a magnet for local talent such as Lihau Perreira and Keely Siegel during its run of South Region titles. The Mt. Hood volleyball program rose to new heights under the tutelage of head coach Chelsie Speer. With Speer at the Helm, the Saints soared to five NWAACC Southern Region championships in five years. She helped Mt. Hood win one conference title and was named regional coach of the year four times.

Following last season, Speer accepted a position to take the reins at Walla Walla Community College where she will also teach full-time.

The Saints had to scramble to replace Speer, but they managed to find just the right man in a timely manner. Mt. Hood hired Andrew Clifton as its new head volleyball coach and the school feels he can keep the program at the top without any hiccups.

“We have been fortunate to have many outstanding coaches throughout the years and it is always difficult to replace any great coach, but I don’t believe we will miss a beat with Andrew as our new head coach,” Mt. Hood athletic director Kim Hyatt said. “He has done a tremendous job of recruiting and the returning athletes have really bought into his system from the beginning. It is going to be an exciting year and I fully expect that we will be challenging for the championship in November.”

Clifton comes to Mt. Hood from the University of Portland where he was an assistant coach for one season. Prior to his time at Portland, Clifton was the setting coach and offensive coordinator at California State University, Monterey Bay. He has also coached at Hope International University and Long Beach City College in Southern California.

As the new leader at Mt. Hood, Clifton looks to put his experience and knowledge into practice. His passion and volleyball acumen have made his players believers.

“Now that we have the entire team working in the gym together, and we have had a few days to work things out, the team is responding great,” Clifton said. “I have had the chance to talk with a few of the players individually and they tell me they really enjoy how I approach teaching the game.”

A primary key to the team’s acceptance of Clifton’s philosophy and style has been the way the returners and freshmen have gelled early on. The sophomores have bought into the fresh system and the newcomers have followed suit.

Those players are already working tirelessly to continue to be an elite squad in the NWAACC. Clifton is working just as hard to ensure their success. His immediate dedication to his players bodes well for the upcoming year.

“Andrew has a clear vision for the program and a plan to get there. He has a tremendous background as a collegiate coach and as a player, and his experience supported his plan,” Hyatt said. “In his interview with the athletes, he quickly connected with them and gained their support almost immediately. We feel very fortunate to have someone of Andrew’s experience on our coaching staff.”

Clifton and the Saints open the 2014 season on August 29 in a two-day tournament at Chemeketa.

Kim Lissinna is an assistant with the Saints after spending the last two years on the staff at Charleston Southern.

• In other volleyball news, former Mt. Hood CC standout and Barlow High graduate Lihau Perreira will coach the JV2 squad at Sandy High School in the fall.

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