Hermiston volleyball coach Amy Dyck is thankful to have six returning varsity players from last year, including two setters, two defensive specialists and two outside hitters.
In the highly competitive Mid-Columbia Conference, any advantage is welcome.
“We have all the components,” Dyck said. “The tricky part, is we have some young players in the middle. They are coachable, but young. Their learning curve will be cool to watch.”
The Bulldogs open their season Saturday, hosting Walla Walla at 1 p.m. Hermiston has a handful of Saturday matches, as well as one on a Monday.
“It’s tough,” Dyck said of the Saturday matches. “On one hand, volleyball is a game of momentum, and having the student section is a great motivator. On the other hand, it forces us to create our own motivation.”
Among those returning for the Bulldogs are setters Kendall Dowdy and Courtnee West, who will share duties. Defensive specialists Halee Stubbs and Emma Combes, and outside hitters Avery Treadwell (left) and Daisy Maddox (right).
“We have some size, and some athletic players,” Dyck said. “These are probably the most focused and disciplined players we have had in a long time. Our leadership allows us to practice and train without fear of failure. They are able to push through the hiccups that can come with being such a young varsity team.”
The Bulldogs spent Labor Day weekend in Sandpoint, Idaho, were they did team bonding exercises, played it the river, and practiced at the local high school.
“We got to train in a different environment, which takes away from the distractions when you stay home on a holiday weekend,” Dyck said.
One thing the Bulldogs did find out on their adventure, is that senior Josie Goodrich is competitive — at everything.
“She wants to win at everything,” Stubbs said. “We had a scavenger hunt, and she was like ‘we are going to win this.’ It’s contagious. We are glad to have someone like her on our team.”
Stubbs and Combes are in their third year at the varsity level, but they said this year is different.
“It’s awesome; everyone is so close,” Stubbs said. “I believe in everyone, and that makes my job easier.”
And having their setters back is a bonus.
“No matter if we get a small touch, Kendall or Courtnee are there. They are so fast,” Combes said. “It helps take the pressure off, and our hitters are smart.”