After graduating more than half of its roster in the spring, the Selah High volleyball team knew it would have some rebuilding to do this season.
But some untimely injuries have made the transition even more abrupt as the young Vikings continue to develop their identity.
Junior returning starter Jacey Scott tore her ACL in a preseason match against West Valley and two other returning varsity players, juniors Anna Hrle and Emily Hutchinson, have each missed a number of matches, leaving just two experienced players in the starting lineup.
Outside hitters Ryenne Howell and Taylor Kieser have helped the Viks remain competitive, but they have been tested during a 2-4 start (1-2 CWAC). Kieser is a three-year starter and is the team’s co-captain, alongside Scott.
“We’ve had some obstacles to overcome, and we’ve definitely been missing the experience of those three girls,” head coach Becky Gause said of Hrle, Hutchinson and Scott. “But we’re starting to get a couple of our players back, and we’re hoping to find a rhythm as we prepare for the final month of the season.”
Gause remains confident that her squad can stay in the hunt in the CWAC despite falling in straight sets to Ellensburg and East Valley. The Viks will also have their work cut out for them against Ephrata, which occupies the league’s top spot. Selah was scheduled to play Ephrata on Oct. 7, but the match was canceled.
“We’re still trying to figure out where we measure up against the other teams in our league,” the coach said. “We’ve only played three league matches (through Oct. 11) because we’ve had a couple of cancellations. It’s late in the season, but at the same time, it’s still pretty early.”
Other key players on the roster this season include setter Madison Miller, middle hitters Livia Moore and Madi McNett, and libero Mackenzie Pelson — one of only two seniors on the roster, along with Howell.
“In practice, we’re just stressing defense and trying to get the less experienced girls up to speed with the varsity game,” Gause said. “I feel that if we keep playing sound defense, we have the hitting power to keep up with everyone else in our league.”
Gause said she’s also working on developing her players’ mental toughness as they enter the season’s final stretch. The Vikings faced Othello on Oct. 12 and Ellensburg on Oct. 14 (results not yet available) before returning home against Prosser on the 19th.
If the Viks can build some momentum before the district tournament in early November, Gause believes her team can make some noise.
“We’re just trying to keep everyone level-headed and mentally tough,” she said. “We want to be playing our best volleyball in November, and these next few weeks are all about getting ready for districts. We just have to keep battling and competing as hard as we can, and we will get there.”