Volleyball team celebrates meeting big goals this season

Benny Westcott

The Sweet Home volleyball squad celebrated their season at a Dec. 9 banquet at the high school cafeteria.

This year the girls finished second in 4A’s Oregon West Conference, won a play-in game at home against Junction City, and made the state tournament, ultimately falling to Henley on the road in the round of 16.

“A goal for me this season was to go to state,” said Head Coach Mary Hutchins. “At the very first practice I said we are going to state. We made that goal, which I was really excited about.

“I am extremely proud of them,” she said. “I want people to know that they accomplished big things this season, and I want them to look forward to next season and expect big things to come.”

With a shorter team than Sweet Home’s had in the past, Hutchins noted that the girls had to focus on defense.

“This year was a good challenge for me,” the coach said. “I had to really think outside the box quite a bit. I have never used so many different lineups or had kids move positions as much as I have this year.”

She said that the kids “were all willing to do it and would try really hard, whatever I asked them to do. This is a very consistent group of kids that have shown up for years for Sweet Home volleyball and given their time and energy. They’re very passionate about it.”

What the program lacked in size it made up for in numbers. The squad had the biggest turnout ever for volleyball, with 51 kids initially trying out for three teams. Prior to this year, the biggest turnout the program ever had was 37.

“We’re really excited about the turnout that we have here,” Hutchins said. “It’s a pretty big turnout for such a small rural school, and we’re really proud of that.”

Team awards were not given out, but All-League and Honorable Mention players were recognized at the banquet.

Junior Brooklyn Hanni got First Team All-League, and fellow junior Bayless Mark and sophomore Kaylynn Mamac made the Second Team. Senior Makayla Guthrie and junior Natalie Summers were Honorable Mentions.