The Knappa volleyball team was the very definition of “middle of the road” in 2018.

The Lady Loggers were 6-6 in league play, and finished fifth in the Northwest League standings — ahead of four teams and behind four teams.

But if you listen to Knappa coach Jeff Kaul, there's only one way to go for the current group of Loggers: Up.

“We look to be a much stronger team, with quite a bit of growth from our folks at the net this season,” said Kaul, entering his 10th year as the Knappa coach.

“I have been very impressed with the improvements we have seen from the girls who have been coming to open gyms,” he said. “We also participated in the University of Oregon volleyball team camp, and I think the girls and I really learned a lot from that experience. I believe that this team has what it takes to take Knappa volleyball into the postseason this year. I am really looking forward to see what these girls can accomplish this season.”

Knappa lost just two seniors off last year's roster, captains Kourtney Tischer and Jordan Walter.

So for the most part, Kaul knows what he has returning.

“Our first week (of fall practice) will be spent running the girls through drills, and hopefully be able to determine those who will be making the jump from JV to varsity,” Kaul said. “That said, we have six returning players, with two seniors, Sophia Carlson and Aiko Miller.

“Aiko will most likely return as our libero, and Sophia has been working hard during the offseason to improve her hitting, and will be one of our big forces on the outside hitting position,” said the coach.

A pair of juniors, Megan Hellberg and Vicki Ramvick, also return, and “both will be focusing on the middle blocker position,” Kaul said. “The last two returning are Hannah (Dietrichs) and Taylin (Regier). Both played varsity last year as freshmen and did a great job for us.

“Taylin has been working hard all spring and summer on improving both her outside hit and back-row attack, as well as her jump serve,” Kaul said. “Hannah also has returned this fall with more strength and should be another weapon for us at the net.”

The rest of the roster “is pretty much up for grabs,” he said. “We are looking for one or two setters this season to replace Kourtney, and we have not decided yet on who will get the nod. The remaining four or five positions will be filled after tryouts are completed.”

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.

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