Philomath High volleyball coach Denee Newton enjoys the challenges that tough tournaments provide. Although the results on the scoreboard can be mixed with the high caliber of competition, the experience allows the players to work on needed skills while building team chemistry.
It’s that latter benefit that really surfaced on Saturday at the Clearwater Classic in Bend.
“I was really proud of some important chemistry work they’ve been needing for sure,” Newton said on Saturday evening. “And they put the work in today. These tournaments are always really tough but it’s paying off.”
Philomath started the day in pool play with two-set matches against West Albany, Sheldon and Summit.
“We did not have a good serve-receive game in the morning and the girls were really distracted from where they needed to be,” Newton said, referring to an 8 a.m. match against West Albany. “We had similar issues but with slight improvement against Sheldon and Summit.”
The Warriors appeared to find a rhythm against Summit but the lineup experienced a disruption when sophomore Ahnika Tryon went down with a sprained ankle.
“We had a long walk and talk because there was a consensus that energy was off and we created some norms to help them with their chemistry,” Newton said.
The team continued with bracket play and opened with a 25-23, 25-18 win over Class 6A Sprague.
“There was a pretty huge difference in their play,” Newton said. “For the first time really, they had full team chemistry. They were blocking the ball like crazy.”
Senior Reagan Larson and junior Abigail Brown each had four blocks. Senior Clara Stanley, senior Mackenzie Hiner and senior Sage Kramer each had two.
In the hitting department, Kramer had a team-high nine kills. At the service line, senior Ashlynn Barron and junior Kori Galvan both had seven aces.
Philomath advanced into a match against another 6A school in West Salem but the Warriors came up short. Larson had another effective match at the net with three blocks.
“Kori took a really hard hit to the face and that stunned us a bit and we struggled to get out of that rotation,” Newton said. “We ended up dropping the match but played tough.”
Scores from the match were not immediately available.
Philomath (7-8) will now have a few days away from competition before resuming the season Thursday with its regular-season home finale against Sisters. The Senior Night match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.
The team then plays on the road for its final two — Oct. 19 at Stayton and Oct. 25 at Newport.
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