By René Ferrán
A look at some of the top returning players and teams to watch in Class 3A Oregon high school volleyball
State: Burns (29-3)
League: Catlin Gabel (12-0 Lewis & Clark); Scio (7-1 PacWest); Santiam Christian (8-0 Mountain Valley); Sutherlin (10-1 Far West); Burns (10-0 Eastern Oregon); Coquille (12-0 2A Sunset)
Teams to watch
The defending champion might be even better this season. The Hilanders return three all-state selections, led by junior OH Mackenzie King, as well as senior libero Macy Temple and sophomore MB Caitlyn Horrell.
With Division I commits OH Elsa McDermott (Penn) and MB Tatum Chase (Seattle University), the Eagles look to improve upon their best-ever third-place finish at last year’s state tournament.
The Eagles won back-to-back OSAA titles in 2018-19 and were the No. 1 seed last fall before Cascade Christian stunned them in Round 1. They lost first-team all-state OH Macey Hughes, a sophomore who moved to Texas over the summer, but still have senior OH Maddie Fields (second-team all-state).
The Outlaws reached the 4A final last fall despite losing Sacramento State commit Greta Davis to injury early in the season. Junior MB Gracie Vohs, a second-team 4A all-state pick last year, will key the attack again this season.
The Bulldogs last season reached the state final for the first time in program history, and while they graduated first-team all-state MH Alyssa Fox (Park University), they return senior L Haley Smoldt and OH/S Makayla Murphy.
The Valiants won 4A state titles in 2018 and 2019 and placed fourth last season. They bring back first-team all-state OH Frances Eisenhardt, last year’s Cowapa player of the year, and five others who made the all-league team.
Players to watch
Outside/right-side hitters: Frances Eisenhardt, Valley Catholic, senior; Mackenzie King, Burns, junior; Reagan Anderson, Horizon Christian, senior; Elsa McDermott, Catlin Gabel, senior; Cayton Smith, Oregon Episcopal, senior; Maddi Carter, Cascade Christian, junior; Maddie Fields, Santiam Christian, senior; Hayley Ayala, Sheridan, senior; Trinidy Blanton, Coquille, senior; Makayla Murphy, Sutherlin, senior; Jojo Cleaver, Vale, junior; Addie Emerson, Valley Catholic, sophomore; Mylee Blake, Siuslaw, sophomore; Jaime Annat, Warrenton, junior; Elise Linderman, Santiam Christian, senior
Middle hitters: Gracie Vohs, Sisters, junior; Akylah Kaino, Burns, sophomore; Desiree Tupua, senior, Siuslaw; Tyler McNeley, Lakeview, senior; Maddie Todd, Cascade Christian, junior; Madison Walker, Banks, senior; Kelsey Dunn, St. Mary’s (Medford), senior; Amaya Slay, South Umpqua, senior; Taylor Young, Corbett, sophomore; Natalie Nielson, Sheridan, senior; Desiree Tupua, Siuslaw, senior
Setters: Ashley Wright, Burns, junior; Katiya Blas-Arellano, Valley Catholic, junior; Sammie McDonald, Horizon Christian, junior; Ali Aldred, Vale, senior; Greta Miller, Corbett, sophomore; Hannah Fendall, Sisters, senior; Ashlynn Davis, Santiam Christian, senior; Kimberlee Kelsey, Creswell, junior
Liberos: Haley Smoldt, Sutherlin, senior; Tayla Ewell, Lakeview, junior; Sophia Rewers, Valley Catholic, senior; Paige Dillard, Corbett, senior; Mia Monaghan, Sisters, junior; Alyssa Knox, Santiam Christian, senior