A three-match win streak midway through the league season had the Warrenton volleyball team sitting with a 5-2 league record, in great shape for a big stretch run last year.
But that’s where the winning stopped, literally.
The Warriors were swept in consecutive matches by Oregon Episcopal, Portland Christian and Rainier, then another three-game loss to OES in the league playoffs.
“We just stopped getting better,” said Warrenton coach Staci Miethe. “We had a really big jump from the first part of the season to midseason, then the second half of the season we just plateaued.
“We competed well,” she said. “We were the only team in the league to score over 20 points in a game against Rainier (and they did it three times). We did some good stuff.”
The good news — the Warriors can say goodbye to the private school competition.
Clatskanie, Rainier and Warrenton will join Taft and Willamina to form the new Coastal Range League.
Given the strength of the private schools in so many sports, that will be a definite plus for the Warriors.
THE COASTAL RANGE LEAGUE
The Warriors already know how good Rainier is. Willamina (11-10 overall) is the only other school that returns with a winning record from 2017.
Clatskanie was 3-15 overall, and Taft finished 1-17.
So the good news — there’s less competition. The bad news — there’s less competition. That won’t help the RPI rating in the OSAA rankings.
On the other hand, it shouldn’t be hard to make the state playoffs from the new league.
Warrenton finished sixth in the old Lewis & Clark League last season. Four of the teams that finished ahead of the Warriors (Portland Christian, Catlin Gabel, OES and Portland Adventist) are no longer there.
Even first-place Rainier lost its best player (league MVP Breana Edwards), along with fellow first-teamer Mikayla Lorentson.
Miethe said, “When they announced the new league, I looked at our roster and who we had coming back and thought, ‘we have a real chance of vying for a league championship next year.’
“We were competitive with Taft and Willamina, and Rainier is definitely in a rebuilding phase. They lost their coach (Daniel Mirelez will replace Mike Edwards), they lost Bree, and without her, they’re a completely different team.
“Clatskanie is better. Shelby (Blodgett) is strong, and they have a significantly good eighth-grade class coming up.
“So I’m thinking, ‘league championship,’ then all of a sudden two of our players move, and another is lost to surgery.”
Still, “I think we’ll be able to compete with every team in our league.”
Warrenton originally had six varsity returners, but two players (sisters Elly and Morgan Blodgett) moved to Seaside, and senior Sagi Diego underwent offseason knee surgery, and is lost for the fall season.
“We’ll have to be adaptable,” coach Miethe said. “That’s our key word this year. We’re basically starting from scratch.”
The Warriors, however, won’t be without talent.
All-league setter Claire Bussert returns for her senior year, and Fernanda Alvarez will play in her senior season.
“Claire is going to be setting again, but I’m going back to a 5-1 (alignment) and I’m going to utilize her as much as possible. Fernanda has really buckled down and accepted her role. She’ll be my main middle. Then we have Ruby Dyer and Noelle O’Bryan, a defensive, back row player.”
Also in the mix will be junior Melia Kapua, “probably a Libero, and we’re working with her on back row attacks,” Miethe said.
Junior Natalie Oseguera (5 feet 10 inches tall) joins the varsity, along with 6-foot sophomore Annie Heyen, and Mia McFadden, a 5-9 sophomore.
“We’re tall, just not very experienced and not super-quick,” Miethe said. “It’s a wide open lineup. Avyree (Miethe, a freshman) competed real well this summer, and we will utilize her as an outside hitter. I could be moving girls back and forth all season.”
Assisting coach Miethe will be Jess Slivkoff, Brent Sullivan, and Kurt Wendschuh, a 6-4 former beach volleyball player.
Coach: Staci Miethe, 2nd year
2017: 8-12 (5-6 league)
Playoffs: Lost league playoff at OES
All-league loss: Morgan Blodgett
All-league returner: Claire Bussert, Sr.