After over a week of playing against themselves, the Roseburg Indians get to face their first volleyball opponent of the 2019 high school season on Thursday afternoon.
The Indians will travel to Springfield to play Thurston, a Class 5A school, in a nonconference match.
“I think we’re all excited,” said outside hitter Chay Swenson, one of four returning seniors for the Indians. “I don’t know how ready we can be. We’ll see Thursday.”
“I think we’re ready,” added senior setter Rylee Russell. “We’re doing a lot of fast-moving drills and scrimmaging inside of practice, so we should be ready for a match.”
Thursday’s contest will mark the debut for Vicki Crowl, who takes over the RHS program after being the junior varsity coach last year.
“The girls have been putting in a lot of time and are ready to get to it,” Crowl said. “They want to get on the court and meet somebody and show what they’ve got. They’re looking really good in practice. They’re very enthusiastic and working hard, and giving me 150 percent.”
Roseburg lost six seniors and one other all-conference player off last year’s team that finished 12-11 under Doug Magee, tying for second in the Southwest Conference. The Tribe’s season ended with a loss to Tualatin in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.
“Not our best year,” admitted Russell. “We had a lot of off the court stuff going on and that definitely impacted our play. This year we’re stronger as a team — on and off the court — and I think we’re going to be a lot better.
“We have a lot of really hard working girls and that’s what I’m looking forward to. Everybody on this team wants to win and give their all. I’m excited to have that around.”
Swenson, a 6-footer who was a second-team all-conference selection last year, heads the returners.
“I think we’ll have a really strong team this year,” Swenson said. “It’s exciting to see everyone wanting to play. We have a couple of younger girls and a couple who haven’t played varsity before, but they’re fitting in really well and working super hard to make sure they understand everything.
“Our heart (is a strength). We have a lot of fight in practice. We’re seeing a lot of long rallies and competitive playing, even when the drills aren’t necessarily competitive. You can’t teach a team how to compete.”
The other seniors are defensive specialist Ericka Allen and libero Audray Gates.
“Obviously we have a few returning seniors who are strong, but the strength is our unity,” Crowl said. “We’re working on a culture of family and positivity. That’s our core strength.
“They’re here to have fun and play the game they love, and hopefully they’ll get some Ws while doing that.”
The remainder of the roster is comprised of juniors Madison Carter, Grace Ellis, Eliana Bruton, Kiah Petrie and Sierra Paroz, sophomore Addison Weckerle and freshman Tia Picknell. Junior Alisha Sabins, sophomore Jaden Warmouth and freshman Kennedy Baylis-Hines will swing between the varsity and junior varsity.
Roseburg’s home opener will be on Sept. 12 against South Eugene in a nonconference match. The Indians open SWC play at South Eugene on Sept. 19.
“All of us seniors want this year to go way better than last year, and we’re going to do everything it takes to make it happen,” Russell said.