HELIX — A trio of top-three finishes in the Oregon Class 1A state tournament and three district championships in as many seasons would lead one to believe that the four seniors on the 2009 Helix varsity volleyball team have already secured their legacy in the program.
But despite the state tournament success — runner-up honors in 2006 and 2008, and a third-place showing in 2007 — Meghan Schroeder, Addie Terjeson, Britney Smith and Kylee Rogers have set an even higher goal for their final season as Grizzlies: winning the state championship.
The four athletes, united on the court since middle school, have seen significant court time since the commencement of their high school careers. They all looked back fondly on their time as freshmen.
"We had a lot of talent," said Schroeder, whose sister Kayla was a senior on the 2006 team. "There was a lot of competition on the floor. Your job was never secure. You had to work hard every single day. You never got complacent. It gave us valuable experience for the next two years and this year."
"It was cool," said Terjeson, a three-year starter. "We had a successful season. It was nerve wracking for a while, but the experience was nice and helped us out."
"It was an amazing experience for all of us," Smith said. "There were definitely some nerves, but a lot of excitement. This is my favorite sport. I always have a desire to work my hardest."
"The change (from middle school to high school) was a big step," Rogers said. "It was difficult, but a lot of fun. Daily doubles were a huge shock."
The growth process as freshmen gave way to veteran status during their sophomore campaigns. The third-place finish, though, dampened things a bit.
"It didn’t go like we’d planned," Terjeson said of the season. "We’d lost a lot of seniors."
Making 2007 a bit harder to swallow was watching Big Sky Conference rival Dufur crowned as state champions.
"It (spoke) well for our league, but it definitely hurt," Smith said.
The year was one of adjustment for Rogers, who assumed the role of setter after playing multiple positions as a freshmen.
"I enjoyed it," Rogers said. "Three weeks into it, I got the hang of it.
"The season was a little disappointing," Rogers said. "But we thought of it as a positive — realizing positives things we gained over the season."
"We would have liked to have gotten first or second, but it was a very successful year," Schroeder said. "The experience helped us a lot."
Last season ended with a second-place performance at state. The Grizzlies were defeated in the championship match by Imbler, a team they split a pair of matches with during the regular season.
"We’re always told to look at positives," Smith said. "Being there (at state) is one of the greatest feelings."
"We were excited and all on the same page," Rogers said. "We started a step higher than we did our sophomore year. We knew what to expect."
"There were a lot of teams that would have liked to have been in our shoes," Schroeder said. "I’m proud of what we accomplished."
"Everyone got stronger," Terjeson said. "We were getting more used to the feeling and believing in ourselves."
Now that daily-double practices have ended, season anticipation is growing leading up to Helix’s participation in the Mac-Hi jamboree on Tuesday. The Grizzlies’ home opener is one week from today against Arlington.
"It’s crazy to believe," Rogers said. "We have to give it everything we have because this is our last chance at it."
"We have the talent," Schroeder said. "I’m positive we have the hunger and desire to do whatever it takes (to be successful)."
"It’s a good feeling, but sad at the same time," Terjeson said. "We’re excited for the first game."
"It’s hard to believe," Smith said. "It’s going to be tough, but at the same time it will make this group work twice as hard to achieve what we want and give us the extra push."
Tammie Parker, now in her ninth year as head coach, expressed her appreciation to the seniors for their contributions to Helix volleyball.
"When you get a core bunch of athletes that are talented and willing to work hard, it makes your job a lot easier," Parker said. "They like to have fun. They have worked hard. Nothing has been handed to them.
"They want to get back to the state tournament," Parker said, "and we’re going to do everything we can to help them achieve that goal."
WHITMAN QUICK FACTS
Coach — Carolyn Papineau, third year.
Last year — Finished 3-13 in the Northwest Conference, 3-22 overall.
Key losses — None. All the players on last year’s team were underclassmen.
Key returners — Katie Richards (S), Breanne Robirds (OPP), Katie Miller (OH), Kelsie Butts (Lib.), Alex Graves (OH).
Strengths — Experience, depth, size, talented first-year players.
Weaknesses — Youth.
Quotes — "This team has all the tools to be successful. It will be fun to see this group develop over the course of the season." — Carolyn Papineau
WW UNIVERSITY QUICK FACTS
Coach — Don Hepker, eighth year.
Last year — Finished 11-13 overall after an 0-7 start.
Key losses — Jenn Han (Libero), Sharla Schroeder (RS).
Key returners — Natalie Wilkening (OH), Quijuana Oucherik (DS-Libero), Torrey Hadded (S), Michelle Warner (MB).
Strengths —Defense, quickness, court sense.
Weaknesses — Size.
Quotes — "This team is going to be a lot of fun. The players are already becoming close friends. They are anxious to work hard and have fun on the court." — Don Hepker
WWCC QUICK FACTS
Coach — Tim Toon, 17th year.
Last year — Won the NWAACC Eastern Region and finished second in the NWAACC Championship tournament.
Key losses — Amanda Grumbach (OH), Jenna Donnerberg (S), Mazie Madison (RS), Jenna Kragt (MB), Joyce Baumann (OH/RS).
Key returners — Megan Tompkins (Libero), Brandie Riggs (S), Sarah McLean (S), Ashley Magee (MB), Cassie Phippen (MB).
Strengths — Strong and steady sophomore players.
Weaknesses — Inexperience at a few key positions.
Quotes — "(The sophomores) had a great off-season and are ready to lead this team to a great season. The freshmen come into the program with quality high school and club experience. Blending the freshmen and sophomores might mean a slow start, but we’ll be tough at the end of the season." — Tim Toon
WA-HI QUICK FACTS
Coach — Audra Cummings, second year.
Last year — Finished third in the Big Nine Conference’s 4A Division. Advanced as far as the 4A regional tournament.
Key losses — Corrine Holbrook (M), Madison Baxter (OH), Rachel Todorovich (S), Kendra Greenwood (OH).
Key returners — Courtney Zaro (OH), Jamie Weisner (OH), Alicia Baker (RS).
Strengths — Athleticism.
Weaknesses — Lack of experience.
Quotes — "We’re continue to work on serving and passing. We’re getting there. The girls are working hard. It’s going to take a little time (to mesh). All of our girls are huge factors and will key players in our success." — Audra Cummings
MAC-HI QUICK FACTS
Coach — Elizabeth Ellis, first year.
Last year — Finished 0-9 in the Greater Oregon League.
Key losses — Linda Bowe (OH), Leigh-Anna Burchell (DS).
Key returners — Sierra Burchell (OH), Stephanie Baker (S), Karlee Clarkson (M).
Strengths — Familiarity, passing, serving.
Weaknesses — Lack of numbers.
Quotes — "The girls we have coming back are very strong players. I’m really excited about this year because there is a lot of potential there to have a successful season. I see it and I hope the girls see it." — Elizabeth Ellis
BURBANK QUICK FACTS
Coach — Bob Kehret, second year.
Last year — Tied for fourth in the South Central Athletic Conference East. Lost to Warden in a mini-playoff for the right to advance to the district tournament.
Key losses — Libby Campbell (OH), Caitlin Dexter (OH), Monica Romero (DS).
Key returners — Hannah Pierce (S), Hailey Butler (S), Kristyn Long (OH).
Strengths — Experience, leadership.
Weaknesses — Depth.
Quotes — "The kids are excited. I think it’s going to be a good fall to be a Coyote. The league could be the great unknown. There were a lot of strong senior players in the league last year." — Bob Kehret
DESALES QUICK FACTS
Coach — Lori Blanc, second year.
Last year — N/A.
Key losses — Erin Mertens (S), Kelsey Hart (OH), Lynnette Ungrecht (OH).
Key returners — Caitlin Duncan (MH), Roxanna Acock (DS), Amanda Warnick (S), Jamie Majerus (OH), Claire Elmenhurst (OH), Abby Larreau.
Strengths — Team chemistry.
Weaknesses — N/A.
Quotes — "The girls had a great summer. We finished last season playing much better than we did at the beginning of the year. We want to continue from that position right there. We’re looking forward to being much stronger and more competitive." — Lori Blanc
DAYTON QUICK FACTS
Coach — Shannon Turner, sixth year.
Last year — Finished third in the Blue Mountain 2B League. Qualified for the district tourament.
Key losses — N/A.
Key returners — Kayla Dedloff, Nicole Lockard, Kayla Turner.
Strengths — Team chemistry.
Weaknesses — Experience.
Quotes — "I am very excited about our season! The girls are pumped, working hard at practice and seem to have a great team chemistry. We will be competitive coming in as the underdog and surprise everyone!!!" — Shannon Turner
POMEROY QUICK FACTS
Coach — Bruce Crossfield, first year.
Last year — Finished second in both league and district play. Finished fifth at the Class 2B state tournament.
Key losses — Kaci Uto (OH), Michelle FitzGerald (Lib.), Taelor Braun (M).
Key returners — Kindsey Bott (M), Melissa Bartlow (S), Heather Van Vogt (OH/RS), Sadie Slaybaugh (DS/OH).
Strengths — Balance, experience, attitude.
Weaknesses — Focusing on every point.
Quotes — "I think we can be competitive. If we’re going to win, we have to play every point. We have a good group of kids. We want to be playing our best at the end of the season. It’s going to be a challenge. I’m excited to be back coaching varsity sports (after a four-year hiatus). I’m anxious to back into it from that standpoint." — Bruce Crossfield
WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT QUICK FACTS
Coach — Jessie Buehler, first year.
Last year — N/A.
Key losses — Caris Cole (OH), Ashley Coila (MB), Morgan Beckman (RS).
Key returners — Megan Withers (OH), Taelor Carter (DS), Allie Wooderchak (RS), Alyssa Hafen (M), Kayla Huxoll (S).
Strengths — Defense, serving, passing.
Weaknesses — Height, dominant hitting.
Quotes — "We’re excited about this year. We’re forward to working hard. We have a lot of work to do." — Jessie Buehler
TOUCHET QUICK FACTS
Coach — Stephanie Paulson, first year.
Last year — Finished in the lower half of the Blue Mountain 1B League.
Key losses — N/A.
Key returners — Zoe Weaver (OH/RS), ReAna Butler (M), Carley Frazier (S).
Strengths — Serving, development of hitting.
Weaknesses — Lack of experience, communication on the floor.
Quotes — "Everyone is excited for the season. The girls have told me that this is the most excited they have been about volleyball in a long, long time." — Stephanie Paulson
WWVA QUICK FACTS
Coach — Scott Schafer, second year.
Last year — Finished 2-10 in the 2B Blue Mountain League.
Key losses — Laura Jacobsen (M).
Key returners — Kelsie Schafer (S/OH), Bri Leen (M), Sandy Avalos (Lib.), Tori Buell (M/RS).
Strengths — Middle play, libero position, outside hitting.
Weaknesses — Depth.
Quotes — "I’ve coached our four juniors since seventh grade. I’m excited with progress they’ve made. I’m anxious to see them play." — Scott Schafer
WESTON-MCEWEN QUICK FACTS
Coach — Shawn White, seventh year.
Last year — Tied for first place in the Blue Mountain Conference with a 13-1 record and was 30-10 overall. Placed fifth at the Class 2A state tournament.
Key losses — Noel Griggs, Stephanie Frank, Sheridan Cain, Jennifer Thul, Nicole Zeller.
Key returners — Presley Pahl (MH), Renee Baumann (LS), Morgan Entze (S), LeAnne Harden (Lib.).
Strengths — Enthusiasm, depth, and determination.
Weaknesses — Lack of playing time as a unit.
Quotes — "The athletes have had a great summer and have worked harder than any team I’ve coached. They are making quick progress and will
be extremely competitive this year. Their chemistry and the fun they have make coaching them a joy." — Shawn White
HELIX QUICK FACTS
Coach — Tammie Parker, ninth year.
Last year — Won the Big Sky Conference with an 8-0 record. Finished 29-9 overall. Won the district championship and placed second at the Class 1A state tournament.
Key losses — Crystal McMurray (OH), Mariah Watchman (M).
Key returners — Britney Smith (OH), Addie Terjeson (OH), Meghan Schroeder (DS), Kylee Rogers (S), Chyanne Hack (M), Claire Ely (Lib.).
Strengths — Experience.
Weaknesses — Depth.
Quotes — "This is a great bunch of young women. I am really encouraged by the maturity and focus I am seeing in practice. The younger girls are really beginning to step up and we are excited about our season." — Tammie Parker.