Prep Volleyball Preview: Season of high expectations for several Twin Harbors teams

Aberdeen, Ocosta, Raymond-South Bend just a few local teams hoping to make deep playoff runs in 2023

With the prep volleyball season tipping off this week, here’s a look at what’s in store for Twin Harbors 2A, 1A and 2B class teams for the 2023 campaign.

Aberdeen Bobcats

Aberdeen is set to have what could be its best season in years with an experienced, senior-heavy roster that figures to compete in the postseason.

The Bobcats return seven seniors and possess length up front, athletic hitters on the outside and leadership in the backcourt.

“We as coaches are excited extremely excited about our lineup this year,” Bobcats head coach Desiree Glanz said. “We feel we have the complete package with this group. Every player is talented and capable of stepping up.”

At the net, Aberdeen will feature height in middle blockers Lilly Camp and Alyvia Lamont with senior outside hitters Savannah Strickland and Annika Hollingsworth – who sat out last season after transferring from Ocosta – as capable offensive threats.

In the backcourt, Aberdeen will be led by seniors Claire Mottinger and Cameryn Micheau, both of which bring a wealth of experience and leadership, according to Glanz.

As a wrinkle to this season’s rotation, Glanz moved Mottinger from her former Libero spot to better utilize her all-around court capabilities and has slotted in freshman Sophie Knutson ast Libero.

A good defensive team that lacked offensive consistency in previous seasons, Glanz believes this year is when it all comes together for the Bobcats.

“We have always been a solid defensive team,” she said. “This season, we have the full package: Heavy hitters, amazing serve-receive and extremely talented defensive players.”

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Elma senior Aubrey Moore

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Elma senior Aubrey Moore

Elma Eagles

One local team that figures to make some strides this season is the Elma Eagles.

Head coach Kendra Dunn has guided some fine Eagles teams in the past and figures to have a good mix of veteran leadership and talented younger players.

Elma is the most senior-heavy of the local 1A Evergreen League teams with five returning players, four being seniors.

Aubrey Moore returns to her starting setter position and figures to be one of the team’s captains on the court.

“She will be a great leader on the court for us and is a lefty setter, that will make a big impact at the net,” Dunn said of Moore.

Senior Taylor Staples and junior Allyson Warren return as backcourt specialists that Dunn figures will be key to Elma’s success on defense.

“They play well defensively, being able to read the court and will be a big impact for us with serve-receive,” she said.

Dunn added junior Haydenne Bogar is an up-and-coming player as “an outside hitter with a big reach.”

The veteran coach said her team has dynamic, versatile players and will use the first few non-league games to figure out what rotations work best as a team.

“I am trusting that the older players will be leaders on the court and for our younger players,” she said. “I also am excited about the potential that our younger players have. I look forward to watching them grow as a team and see all they accomplish this year as they continue to improve.”

PHOTO BY FOREST WORGUM Hoquiam senior Kristina Goulet

PHOTO BY FOREST WORGUM Hoquiam senior Kristina Goulet

Hoquiam Grizzlies

Hoquiam graduated six seniors from last season’s 1A Evergreen League championship team, meaning if the Grizzlies are to repeat, its younger players will have to perform in key roles.

Seniors Kristina Goulet and Faith Prosch made significant contributions last year and will play bigger roles for head coach Heather Bozich’s team this season.

Goulet is a returning First Team all-league middle blocker that possesses a strong service game, is an active defender and is one of the better athletes in the league.

Prosch is a solid all-around player and returning Second Team all-leaguer that figures to play a large role at her outside hitter spot.

Senior Leighann Bratt will have a new role as an outside hitter opposite Prosch.

With just three seniors on the roster, Hoquiam will look to junior Katlyn Brodhead in a key role as starting setter and sophomore Lexi LaBounty at Libero.

Junior Hayden Brook-Andrew (middle blocker), Avery Templer (defensive specialist) and Jordan Billie (right-side hitter) all figure to earn significant playing time this season.

“After losing six seniors, all of whom were heavy contributors to our successful season, we have a very young team in the experience department,” Bozich said. “I think we’re going to surprise people with our scrappy play and grit. These are very competitive athletes who want to win. We’re going to be tough defensively because they never give up on a ball. We’re still finding our way offensively but with how determined they all are I have no doubt they will have success offensively as well.”

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Montesano junior Liv Robinson

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Montesano junior Liv Robinson

Montesano Bulldogs

Similar to league-rival Hoquiam, Montesano finds itself in the midst of a youth movement after graduating six seniors from a squad that surged late last season.

Cindy Wecker takes over at head coach for a Bulldogs team that has four varsity returners – all juniors – and one senior on the roster.

“With the loss of six seniors, it could prove to be a challenging year,” Wecker said. “But I think the girls and our coaching staff are up for the challenge. We are counting on the returners to step up and fill the leadership rolls of last year’s seniors.”

Wecker will look to junior setter Karissa Otterstetter to set the table for junior hitters Kayla Hatton on the outside and Kylee Wisdom in the middle, while junior Liv Robinson will return to her spot in the backcourt as a passer and team sparkplug.

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO North Beach middle blocker Kayla Eastman (2)

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO North Beach middle blocker Kayla Eastman (2)

North Beach Lady Hyaks

What the North Beach Hyaks might lack in experience, they’ll make up in numbers.

North Beach had 25 players come out for volleyball this year, leading to one of its largest rosters in many seasons.

“Overall, this is going to be an exciting year for Lady Hyak volleyball,” head coach Jessica Preisinger said. “We’ve got one of our biggest turn outs and lots of young talent.”

North Beach has one senior and three returning varsity players heading into the start of the season and are led by Kayla Eastman, one of the top middle blockers in the Pacific League last year and a First Team all-league standout who has improved her offensive game in the offseason.

Senior Vyolet Dodson and junior Mayra Strandberg return to the starting lineup in their roles as a defensive specialists with Kaylie Hendricks also returing to the varsity lineup.

The Lady Hyaks will rely on younger players, such as setters Macenzie Osborne (sophomore) and Maylyn Turner (freshman) and outside hitter Jazmine Goldman (sophomore), to fill in the gaps.

“We have a very young team, but they are hungry and ready to compete,” Preisinger said.

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Ocosta middle blocker Alexia Bradley (19)

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Ocosta middle blocker Alexia Bradley (19)

Ocosta Wildcats

Led by a host of key returning starters and all-leaguers, the Ocosta Wildcats look to be a serious contender in the 2B Pacific League this season.

Led by senior middle blocker Alexia Bradley, Ocosta has three all-Pacific League players returning to the lineup as well as five returning starters and some promising first-year and bench players to provide depth.

Bradley was one of the top players in the state in 2022, leading the entire 2B class in solo blocks and was named First Team all-league.

Junior Noel Cuzdey returns as the Wildcats starting Libero after earning a First Team nod last season and is a player head coach Erin Snider dubbed “a digging machine.”

Junior Jolissa Schlegel – a Second Team all-league player a season ago – provides offensive options at all six rotations and will pair with senior Samantha Schlegel as the two featured hitters on the team.

They’ll be fed by senior setter Brynn Rasmus, who runs the Ocosta offense and is a solid defender in the back row.

Service specialist Sophie Olive – a junior – and sophomores Anna Davis (blocker) and Millie Tucker (defensive specialist) also expect to make an impact this season.

Snider said she feels like her lineup is “dialed in” after the Hoquiam Jamboree on Thursday and feels this team could go deep in the playoffs.

“We have lots of experienced players on our team this season,” Snider said. “Brynn’s court sense is valuable and she knows how to spread out the offense as we have many players who can hit. Alexia Bradley’s height and power combined with the solid all-around defense our whole team offers should take our team far in post season.”

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Raymond-South Bend’s Fatima Delgado, left, and Kyndal Koski

DAILY WORLD FILE PHOTO Raymond-South Bend’s Fatima Delgado, left, and Kyndal Koski

Raymond-South Bend Ravens

The movement of Raymond and South Bend teams to combine continues this season as the two schools decided to join forces on the volleyball court for the first time in 2023.

One glaring absence from this season’s team is the loss of one of the most talented girls athletes in the 2B class in junior Karsyn Freeman, who transferred to Adna after leading Raymond to success in volleyball, basketball and track and field since she started competing at the varsity level in eighth grade.

Despite the loss of Freeman, combining the two schools means the Ravens have a wealth of talent and depth.

The Ravens will have 10 returning players and posses talent at every position. Senior Kyndal Koski and junior Fatima Delgado are two of the best passers in the district, according to RSB head coach Julie Jewell, and paired with junior setter Berklee Morley, comprise what is expected to be one of the best backcourts in the league.

Add to that a host of strong hitters that includes Emily Howell, Kassie Koski and Ava Baugher plus a deep bench, and it looks as though RSB has the talent to compete with the top teams in 2B.

If there are concerns for this team, it would be the same issues other RSB teams have dealt with during the combo era.

“Getting used to playing together and developing our team chemistry,” Jewell said regarding the Ravens’ potential weaknesses. “I’m excited about this group. They have a good skill level and they play with intensity. They are a competitive, hard working group. We have a good balance between upperclassmen and underclassmen. Considering this is the first year of our combine, there will be some unique things to get used to, but I’ve seen these girls be adaptable and they are excited about the season and all we can accomplish.”