WARRENTON — For just the third time since 1985, the Warrenton varsity volleyball program is under new management.
Jenny Forney takes over as head coach for Jim Hackwith, who stepped down following the 2013 season after nine years as coach. Before that, Dianne Dick held the head coaching position for 20 years – making Forney just the third coach in 30 years of Warrenton volleyball.
No pressure there, right?
“There’s some pressure,” admits Forney, a Warrenton graduate. “There are big shoes to fill, but I know it can be done. We just have to stay focused.”
And pattern herself after her own coach.
“Dianne is my mentor coach, and I’m trying to go back to what she has done in the past, and emulate her coaching style,” Forney said. “She had a lot of success, and she’s ultimately who I have to be like as a coach. That’s how I want to be.”
The league’s loss of Corbett and Valley Catholic is a plus for the rest of the Lewis & Clark League, as the Cardinals and Valiants were two of the toughest teams in the L&C. Both schools now compete at the 4A level.
“I’m excited about Valley Catholic and Corbett going someplace else,” Forney said.
In their place, the league has added Portland Christian and Riverdale, while Rainier remains as one of the league favorites.
“Rainier is going to be good,” she said. “We played Rainier this summer, and we battled with them, so we’ll be right there chasing them.”
Forney admits she doesn’t know too much about the private schools from Portland (Catlin Gabel, De La Salle, Portland Adventist, Portland Christian, Oregon Episcopal), “but they always seem to come up with something great.”
The turnout of 28 players is up from 18 last year, enough to give the Warriors three teams this season. And there’s plenty of experience, with eight of the nine having played last year at the varsity level.
The seniors are Allysa Casteel, all-league setter Brianna Marsch, and Sabrina Merila.
Libby Biel, Lexie Lundberg, Sarah Nichols and Sophia Thomas are the juniors, and Landree Miethe returns for her sophomore season.
Warrenton also picked up Katelynn Blodgett, a sophomore transfer from Seaside.
“Katelynn will see varsity time, at middle or right side hitter,” Forney said. “She’s a great addition. We have a solid position with Bri as a our setter, and Libby as our outside hitter.
“We’ll move Landree from middle to the outside,” she said. “We have more girls who are stepping up as hitters. Libby and Landree are definitely the strongest hitters, so I want them opposite, with Allysa and Sabrina in the middle. They’re solid, too.”
After Warrenton went the entire 2013-14 school year without a state playoff team, Forney thinks the volleyball team can break the cycle.
“We have a goal to go to state,” she said. “There were no playoff teams at Warrenton last year. But I see us making the playoffs. I know that this group has a lot drive and commitment, and they’re not going to settle for less. I know all of the girls, and we’ve been hitting it hard in the summer. As a team, we’re ready."
Forney will be assisted by Katie Breidenich.
Coach: Jenny Forney, 1st year
2013: 3-11 (2-9 L&C)
All-League Loss: Hanna Little
All-League Returner: Brianna Marsch, Sr.