Challenges? They've got one in Seaside, when it comes to the upcoming high school volleyball season.
Head coach Demi Lund had a tough task on her hands when she first arrived in 2018, and it hasn't gotten any easier going into her second year .
First off, there's the competition the Gulls will face in their own league. Defending state champion Valley Catholic returns with a good part of its lineup still intact, while Astoria, Banks and Tillamook are all hoping to make a big push for the postseason.
Then there's the job of replacing some key losses on their roster. Seaside had three all-league players last season, and lost all three to graduation. Another key player has decided to play soccer.
If that wasn't enough, Lund is expecting her first child in December.
It's “going to be one crazy season!,” she said.
The 2018 Gulls finished 1-7 in league play, good enough to make the play-in round, where Seaside was swept in a match at Philomath.
On the positive side, the Gulls still have some experience on the roster.
Key returners include outside hitters Ellisa Blodgett and Emma Brown, defensive specialist Andrea Castro, and setter Emma Meyer — all seniors.
Junior Annaika Wunderlich will be making her varsity debut, while Sandee Adriano returns for her sophomore season.
“We were extremely fortunate to have the Blodgett sisters (Morgan and Ellisa) transfer from Warrenton High School last season,” Lund said, as Morgan ended up making all-league.
“Ellissa Blodgett is projected to be one of our strongest players,” she said. “And they also have a little sister coming in as freshman who will be an asset to the program like her sisters were.”
Meanwhile, Lund — who turned 28 in August — doesn't get a lot of time to learn about being a coach in a tough league.
“I am continuing to implement a fast-moving offense to keep up with the teams in our league, and keep them on their toes with our defensive structure,” she said. “We still have a lot of growing to do, but I think league play will be very competitive and fun. We will see how the other teams look during our jamboree (Aug. 29 at Seaside).”
As a second-year varsity coach, “I am still trying to develop a completely new program from scratch here at Seaside,” Lund said. “My goal is to keep my girls very well conditioned to go those long five-game sets if needed. My girls have a lot of heart and passion, and I am so excited to see what this season has in store for us.”