After a winning season in 2017, the Jewell volleyball team slipped back under the .500 mark last year, finishing 9-11 overall, 6-8 in the Casco League.
After a pair of three-game sweeps over Falls City and C.S. Lewis, the Lady Jays were looking good with a 9-8 record in early October. That was before Jewell was swept in three straight matches to finish the season, including a league playoff at Willamette Valley Christian.
Head coach Jessica Miller is hoping to lead the Blue Jays back to the land of the winning in 2019.
“Making it to the state playoffs is always a team goal, regardless of where we start at the beginning of the season,” Miller said. “We are a small, young team with no seniors, but the players we do have are very committed and will work hard. I expect them to be surprisingly competitive in our league.”
The juniors will have to serve as team leaders, as outside hitter/setter Lillie Meier, libero Aliyah Hart and outside hitter/middle blocker Almeda “Ally” Phillips are the most experienced players on the Jewell roster.
After that, there's a lot of youth, with sophomore returner Kiera Butori, and Brenna Shaw, a first-year sophomore on varsity.
Incoming freshmen include Fern Hedford, Gracie Kuhnly, Jordynn Joines and Olivia Rodgers.
“We are in a tough league,” Miller said of the Casco League, which features defending state champion St. Paul. The Buckaroos were 30-0 overall last season and won the Class 1A state championship. Crosshill Christian and Perrydale both made the final eight.
Miller is assisted by Shannon Wood.