Husky spikers optimistic after pre-league losses to top teams

Winning a single game against Central, the Sweet Home High School volleyball team lost two games to one to be eliminated from the Sisters volleyball tournament held on Saturday.

In pool play, the Huskies lost to the top-ranked team in Oregon, Henley, 21-15 and 21-16.

“They were really good,” Coach Debbie Danielson said.

Yamhill-Carlton defeated the Huskies 21-10 and 21-19, and then they split with Stayton, losing 21-16 and winning 21-18.

They entered bracket play against Central, a team that Danielson said the Huskies haven’t beaten as long as she’s been coach.

The Huskies opened the match winning 25-20. They lost the next two games 25-21 and 15-7, eliminating them from the tournament.

They traveled to Yamhill-Carlton on Sept. 22 shorthanded Danielson said. Tiffanie Miller and Emili Riggs were both out.

Yamhill-Carlton won 25-15, 25-16 and 25-21.

The games rounded out a tough, winless preseason for the Huskies.

“A tough preseason can prepare you if you can learn and turn it around,” Danielson said, but a team needs to believe it can win too.

The Huskies showed they could win against the best, Danielson said. They beat Stayton and Central while running with Henley, and she thinks that’s a good sign.

All of the coaches talking to her after the game keep telling her how different the team looks from last year, she said.

Outside of the mental game, the Huskies have been struggling with the middle block and hitting can suffer when Riggs or Sam Johnson are off their game or not there, she said. The Huskies got a boost from Annie Whitfield who put her hands on the ball while playing the middle last week to make room for Jamie Swanson on the right side blocking the opponents’ main outside hitter.

Danielson is optimistic about league opening this week, she said. The team was scheduled to open against Philomath Tuesday night.

Danielson doesn’t know too much about Philomath this year, she said. This will be the first time the Huskies will get to see the Warriors, and it will be their first game against an unranked opponent.

Thursday, the Huskies host Newport, which is ranked, Danielson said. Stayton beat Newport, so Newport is definitely beatable.

“It’s not far-fetched to think we could be in the one, two spot,” Danielson said. “I didn’t think we could until we saw Central.”

The Huskies gave Panthers some points they didn’t earn, Danielson said. Behind by four, the Huskies made several errors to give up points.

If the Huskies can fix those mistakes, they’ll stand a good chance at being at the top of the league, Danielson said.

As the Huskies enter regular season, they will bring Brandi Trewin up to varsity from the junior varsity, Danielson said. Last week, she played one game and a full JV match against Yamhill-Carlton.