THE ENTZE EXPRESS

Morgan Entze is the leader of the Weston-McEwen volleyball juggernaut, but that is just a part of the dynamic TigerScot's life.

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Morgan Entze, above after a recent practice, has dreamt of playing on the varsity squad for Weston-McEwen since she was four years old.

ATHENA - If you grew up in Athena, the success of the Weston-McEwen TigerScot volleyball program is simply a part of your world.

The TigerScots own a 2004 state championship, are the defending Oregon Class 2A champions, and are currently ranked third in the state.

Their program, under the direction of coach Shawn White, has been, by any standards, highly successful.

"Kids that buy into it (the program)," White said of keys to the success. "Kids are willing to sacrifice and play partial roles. (Hence), we can play eight or nine - this year we're playing 11 - every match. Everybody has their thing that they do well and they work at perfecting it. That's been key for it (the success) over the years."

Whatever the draw - playing time, the success, the fact that Mom (Billie) played for the TigerScots - senior captain Morgan Entze finds herself living her dream as a member of the TigerScot varsity squad.

"Ever since I was little, I would watch the volleyball games," Morgan Entze said. "Since I was 4 years old, my dream has been to be on varsity. When I finally got to seventh grade and could play volleyball, I was super-excited. As soon as I started playing, it (volleyball) turned into a passion. I love how it is a team sport and how it takes all of us (to be successful)."

In addition to volleyball, Morgan has found time for school, basketball and softball, working on the family farm, and enjoying her family.

"Morgan is one of our top students," W-M history teacher White said. "She's really involved and busy. She takes care of all the different things."

One of those things is her responsibilities to the family farm. Mom (Billie) and Dad (Kurt) run a wheat farm operation on a family-owned farm, and Morgan has been on hand to do her share.

"I've been driving combine along with my dad for six years," Morgan said. "It (the farm) has been in our family for a long time and is what our family is based around. The whole family helps out."

In school, the ASB secretary is designing a career path that she hopes will lead to a nursing career.

"My favorite subject is English," Entze said. "I enjoy reading and writing - mostly writing stories about my life experiences. I'm pretty good in biology and really enjoy health. I want to go into pediatric nursing."

Away from the books, farm and volleyball court, it's music, snowmobiling, family and softball that have helped shaped who she is.

"I'm a drummer and a dancer in the Pipe Band, which is a big tradition in our school," Entze said. "I play the baritone in the concert band.

"We go snowmobiling," she continued. "A lot of my grandparents live close, and I enjoy spending a lot of time with my family. In the summer, (in addition to driving combine), I do a lot of travel ball with (my) softball (team)."

But the TigerScots know love for volleyball is paramount.

"She's kind of our fire," White said. "She's got a lot of energy and intensity. She brings that fire as our vocal leader on the floor."

Entze's "fire" has evolved over her career to fit the TigerScot needs.

When she arrived, the TigerScots needed a setter. That need continues into Entze's senior year and was capped, at least for now, by her 18 assists in the three-set win over Faith Bible in the 2010 championship match.

However, she has developed into a key hitter and blocker in addition to her setting duties.

"I got to high school, and I'd never set before in my life," Entze said. "The first time I started doing it (setting), I knew that's what I wanted to do."

"Each year, her role has expanded," White said. "We lost our top three hitters (from the 2010 state champions), and she has the responsibility to not just run the team offensively, but also as an attacker. Morgan has worked hard on that (hitting) and has become one of our featured hitters."

"I wasn't very good at hitting," Entze said. "I just kept working on it and pushing myself. I want to do both to contribute to my team. It started to click this year. Being able to hit and set is exciting. Setting is still my favorite, but hitting the ball is a huge rush. You always wonder, when you're setting, what it's like to get a kill, and when you start hitting, it's like, ‘Oh, this is nice.'"

Even with the hitting "rush," Entze remains committed to her role of running the TigerScot offense.

"Your hitters change every year," she said. "They all have different feeds they go at. You just learn what they need, and that's what you do.

"You try and control where the ball gets set," Entze continued. "Setters have to pay attention to the blockers on the other team, and who (each TigerScot hitter) is on. You have to be smart and know where to put it (the set). I remember my freshman year, I didn't know what I was doing. You learn where people are and who is on."

As a senior, Entze has responsibilities that go beyond setting, hitting and blocking.

"I have to work at being positive and keeping my team up," she said. "I've been through the experience of winning a state championship and I try to help, encourage and push them (teammates). We all have the same goal of winning another state championship. We play together as a family. Being the setter, you touch the ball every play. You have to be vocal and positive."

Being the chief communicator for the TigerScots has been a work in progress.

"My communication skills," Entze acknowledged as an area of growth. "I've had trouble with that. I'm very hard on myself. Things come out in ways that I don't mean them to. Other people perceive them as different things. I've worked on the way I say things, my body language, and trying to stay more positive. Even if we are not doing well, I try to stay positive and keep my team up. That's been a struggle for me.

"Being captain has made me grow up," Entze continued. "You have to put yourself in others' shoes and not get wrapped up in yourself. You have to think about your whole team. We're always there for each other. They depend on me to stay positive, because they are all doing the same for me."

"That (communication) has been her biggest improvement," White said. "She's done a nice job."

The TigerScots headed into the second round of the Blue Mountain Conference season with a perfect 7-0 conference record and Entze can see another state run in the offing.

"We are on a good path," Entze said. "We're young (only four seniors), we have fun together, but we work hard and improve every day. We all have individual things we need to work on to help make ourselves better, and once we make ourselves better, it makes our team better."

The key to that TigerScot success may rest in Morgan's pregame rituals.

"I have to do my hair the same way before every game," Entze said. "I wear the same ribbon and hair ties, and for Saturday games, my mom has to fix me breakfast. Coming to play is like going to a job, but a job I love."

However, the important pregame habit is one shared by player and coach.

"I have to have a Mountain Dew before every game," Entze said. "Coach and I both have to have a Mountain Dew and it (the habit) has carried on since freshman year."

Entze hopes to see her career end in Forest Grove, Ore., as the TigerScots make a title defense, but her playing days will continue as several college programs - Walla Walla Community College, Mount Hood, Southwest Oregon - have been in contact.

"I'm looking at volleyball as my main sport, and I've had a few offers," she said. "I'm looking at my options - not only for volleyball, but for school."

Add that Mountain Dew with Entze's ability, and her volleyball and collegiate futures remain on a positive path.

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