PHS volleyball artwork

Philomath High sophomore Abigail Brown and junior Sage Kramer are playing with the Sweet Home club volleyball program, Warriors coach Denee Newton said.

Newton said Thursday afternoon that she didn’t believe they’ve played in any tournaments yet but thinks the experience will be a good one for them both.

“It was a cool opportunity … I think they had just a couple of spots, a couple of positions, so the head coach had Abigail and Sage in mind for that just because she knows them,” Newton said.

Sweet Home and Philomath are rivals in the Oregon West Conference with both programs among the best in Class 4A. The Huskies have had the upper hand over the Warriors in recent years, including a three-match sweep last season. In fact, Sweet Home defeated Philomath in three sets in the 4A semifinals in November 2019.

“There was always this weird mental thing with Sweet Home — just this fear in our performance was always funky because of that,” Newton said. “I think these two as emerging leaders are going to be comfortable with these kids because of this experience.”

Just maybe Philomath will be able to calm down against the Huskies and break out of that funk Newton mentioned.

“I think it might really help the dynamic when they become our competition again,” Newton said. “I think it’ll be good for them to get to know them as people and teammates so when they become competitors again, they’re not seen as these entities.”

To improve safety and work around restrictions, Sweet Home set up an outdoor space where volleyball can be played until they can go back inside. The club team is apparently hoping to play in tournaments before and after the OSAA season — if that ever happens.