The Hermiston girls volleyball team wrapped up its season with a 3-0 loss to Liberty in the play-in round of the 5A state volleyball playoffs Tuesday.

Hermiston head coach Becky Wadekamper is happy with her team’s season but was disappointed in the end result.

“We had a good year,” she said. “We hit some of our goals but fell short on a couple of the other ones.”

One of the goals Hermiston was able to accomplish this season was winning the Columbia River Conference title.

“We are definitely proud that we can call ourselves CRC champs,” Wadekamper said. “I think our girls were happy with the title but weren’t satisfied after our season ended. We were hoping to make a deeper run in the playoffs.”

The CRC All Conference teams were recently announced, and both the first and second teams are littered with Bulldog players. Junior Noa Ena took home the biggest individual award of them all as she was named Columbia River Conference Player of the Year.

Wadekamper said her team had a few players who didn’t return from last year’s squad, which allowed Ena to have a more prominent role this season.

“Noa really stepped up,” Wadekamper said. “She got an opportunity and made the most of it. She is still pretty raw, and I’m excited that she has another year in the program.”

Fellow junior Brea Kestler joined Ena on the CRC first team, as did senior Shelby Sanders. Hermiston senior Hannah Mabbott made the CRC second team. Wadekamper also took home Columbia River Conference Coach of the Year honors.

The Bulldogs are losing five seniors from this year’s squad, and Wadekamper said it will be up to the underclassmen to fill the departed seniors’ shoes.

“It will certainly present an opportunity for a lot of the younger players in our program,” she said. “Those spots will be up for grabs.”

The team will definitely look different next season, Wadekamper said.

“We won’t have the height that we’ve had in the recent past,” she said. “We are going to have to change our philosophy a little bit in order to accommodate the change in personnel.”

Wadekamper said if she had her choice she’d always like to have size at the net. She noted one of the challenges of being a high school coach is having to adjust each year.

“Back-line defense will be a major focus next season,” she said. “We’ll also get more aggressive from the serving line as we will try to combat our likely lack of height.”

The Bulldogs will take a break after their playoff run before open gym practices begins following the winter sports season. Wadekamper said her players are also very active in the summer, participating in various camps.

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