It will be a new-look Knappa volleyball team in 2013. Then again, when you graduate half the team and most of your starters from the year before are gone, the Loggers didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

“We lost five seniors, so we’re kind of hurting,” said Jeff Kaul, back for his fourth season with the Loggers. “We have 16 girls out (the first week of practice), not quite as many as last year.”

The Loggers will need all they can get for a return trip to the state playoffs.

THE LEAGUE

“We still have Portland Christian and Vernonia on our side,” Kaul said, although the Logger-Royal rivalry could be coming to an end. Portland Christian is moving up to Class 3A next year, according to the OSAA’s new class realignment.

The Royals’ junior varsity team of a year ago “was big, they always have good players,” Kaul said. “And Vernonia will be tough. They usually are. Toward the end of the season, Vernonia was the team to beat.

“Those are the two teams that are usually tough, and I don’t see any reason to believe that Vernonia won’t be strong this year. (Northwest League Coach of the Year Sara McMahon) is a good coach, and she will get the most out of her girls.”

Delphian, which had two juniors on last year’s first-team all-league, “surprised everyone last year,” Kaul said. “They weren’t even worth mentioning a few years ago, and all of a sudden a couple of their girls started hitting, and they gained momentum. If all the kids who were there last year are back, they should be doing pretty good. They will be a team to watch.”

THE PLAYERS

The list of returners is a rather short one for the Loggers.

Back for their senior years are Kenzi Coffey and Shania Foley, while Knappa picked up Kelsey Kelly, a senior transfer from Naselle.

“Shania Foley is one of our defensive specialists in the back row, but we lost her to a concussion in a summer tournament at Portland Lutheran,” Kaul said. “She’s been recovering and seems to be doing well. She’s hitting strong from the back row.”

Meanwhile, junior Kacie Cameron “will be one of our main hitters this year,” he said, while two other key starters for the Loggers will be juniors Stacey Aho and Mimi Riffe, Knappa’s ace server from a year ago.

Both players “were out most of the summer with injuries to their feet,” Kaul said, but both should be at full strength once the season starts.

That’s it for returners, as Knappa lost several key players to graduation, including Ashley Camp, Rea Elliott, Kristi Funk, Emily Goodman and Carly Sproul.

“We had quite a few of the young players coming to open gym this summer,” said Kaul, whose daughter Christina will coach the Knappa junior varsity.

“We played in the Portland Lutheran tournament and did pretty good there, for just throwing a team together.

“Some of the girls who will play this year didn’t see any varsity time last year, and will have to jump right into varsity.”

“We’re going to be a short team too,” he added. “We’ll miss Rea and Emily, and Carly and Ashley were great kids. But we have some good kids coming up, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Rounding out this year’s varsity will be juniors Stephanie Bue and Alyson Olheiser, with sophomores Bailey Corder and Lexy Solomon.

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