Last year, Richland won the Mid-Columbia Conference title. Chiawana was a game back, and Kamiakin went to the Class 3A state tournament. Throw in Pasco with Catelyn Linke and a whole new philosophy at Kennewick, and the MCC volleyball scene is a giant abstract piece of art.
The Bombers lost just three players off last year’s 13-1 team and return versatile Kamry Breard, a 5-foot-9 senior who sees time at outside hitter and setter in Richland’s 6-2 offense.
Breard, the Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year last year, posted 203 kills, 322 assists, 188 digs, 42 aces and 25 blocks last season.
“I think that we should be really solid,” Bombers coach Bob Raidl said. “We have a lot of talent, but you never know how good a team you will have. We have a lot of girls who can play; it’s just a matter of seeing how we compete. I won’t know how well we’ll compete until we play some matches.”
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There was a shakeup in the make up of the MCC this season with Hanford moving up to 4A with Richland, Chiawana, Pasco and Walla Walla.
When it comes to the playoffs, the MCC and Greater Spokane League will have two state berths available for the 4A ranks. Meanwhile, the 3A teams will have one berth unless they can reach an agreement with another district to risk that berth for a shot at a second state entry. Details still are being worked out on that front.
But until then, the MCC still will battle for one title.
“We are a strong league,” Kamiakin coach Morgan Schauble said. “There were teams that surprised us. Hanford had a young team last year and has worked hard all summer. Southridge always has something, and I think Richland will be stronger than they were last year. Any day can be somebody’s day.”
Pasco coach Jackie Fluaitt agreed.
“The whole league is really going to be tough this year,” Fluaitt said. “It will be a battle. Richland is back up there. Chiawana has Ashtin (Olin) and McKaidan (Moore) back. Hanford moved up to 4A and she (Nichelle Meador) has done good things there. Then there’s Kamiakin. Where the heck do they get all of their height?”
Joining Breard are fellow seniors Lexi Lacey, Sarah Howlett, Claire Shea, Savannah Haynie and McKenna Cullen. Add in junior Madelaine Haynie and sophomores Lindsay Rosenthal and Lainie Lacey, and the Bombers have an arsenal of talent.
There’s no hiding Kamiakin’s weapons. First-team all-conference selections Allison Stapleton (6-2, senior) and Leanna Shymanski (5-11, senior) team up with 5-10 senior outside hitter Madison Judy for one of the most dangerous trios in the conference.
“If we aren’t able to pass and serve receive, what good it that going to be,” Schauble said of her three big hitters. “We have a bulk of the girls coming back, but we still are trying to find out what our best options are right now.”
Senior Carlee Rowell (MH) also returns, as does junior Maddy Eerkes, who will be the Braves’ No. 1 setter. Junior Megan Massey is penciled in at libero. Senior Grace Halsted and juniors Daryn Lutes, Courtney Collins, Lily Winchel and Jill Sands round out the core group of players.
Chiawana, which went 12-2 last season, returns seniors Moore (OH) and Olin (setter). It’s a good foundation for the Riverhawks, how have four seniors on the roster and will have sophomore Marissa Logozzo at libero.
“I’d be hard pressed to trade those two (Moore and Olin) for anyone in this league,” Riverhawks coach Jim Steach said.
The two remaining seniors are Heidi Rus (MH) and Olivia Childs (DS), and sophomore middle hitter Yanelli Garcia will see a lot of time.
The 5-9 Linke has been the face of Pasco volleyball for three years. Last year’s MCC Player of the Year will be counted on to do a fair amount of damage at the net with the loss of Ashlin Orosco to graduation.
The Bulldogs also return all-conference honorable mention libero Victoria Estes.
Fluaitt is excited about juniors Hannah Jolly (5-9, MH) and Mattie Mathews (5-10, MH), who “made good improvements all summer long.”
Southridge returns senior setter Kamaile Moody along with seniors Lauren Beck (MH), Kayla Conrad (libero) and Alyssa Martuscelli (DS), and junior Riley Hebdon (RS).
“I still have the core of the group left,” Suns coach John Lengphounpraseut said. “I don’t think we are going to miss too much. The girls from last year have stepped up and we have added senior Lindsey Wooly (OH, DS). She played her sophomore year, but last year she did cross country.”
Lengphounpraseut also hopes to get good production out of sophomores Kennedy Conrad (DS, setter), Bobbie Newton (5-11, MH) abd Sophia Sumner (OH).
Kennewick, under new coach Kelly Munson, is looking to be more competitive than its 1-13 showing from last season.
“Getting them to commit has been a priority,” Munson said. “We have been focusing on effort, communication and technique. We are setting up a new offense and I still don’t have a solid libero, yet.”
The Lions return honorable mention all-conference OH Breanna Shaffer, along with OH Monica Kaylor, who averaged a little more than 10 kills a match last year. Both are juniors.
The Falcons lost three strong players up front but come back with 6-1 senior Tasha Hungate and 5-8 senior Rose Dimmick.
“They are both powerhouses and they can jump,” Hanford coach Nichelle Meador said. “They are strong all the way around. We will run Tasha all across the front row. We are excited to see her put up some blocks.”
The Falcons, who will host Walla Walla in their MCC opener Tuesday, are young again this season with four seniors, one junior and four sophomores.
Walla Walla Blue Devils
Coach Tracy Rotert returns an experienced team, led by senior setter Tara Krivoshein, an all-league honorable mention selection last season, and junior Emma Wenzel, who is an asset on defense and can score points out of the middle with her blocking.
The Blue Devils also will look to sophomore OH Noelani Helm for big kills and solid all-around play.
It’s hard to keep up with the small schools as they continually move up and down. For now, eight teams will make up the newly formed EWAC, with familiar faces Dayton, DeSales, Liberty Christian and Tri-Cities Prep heading the group. Walla Walla Valley Academy, Mabton, White Swan and Kittitas round out the conference.
Touchet remains in the Southeast 1B, along with Waitsburg, Prescott, Lacrosse-Washtucna-Kahlotus, Colton, Pomeroy, Oakesdale, St. John Endicott and Garfield-Palouse.
2015 MCC Standings