Bend — On Friday, Mountain View High School hosted a tournament to open the 2021 season with a decent group of teams on the docket. There were a few notable observations from the tourney, a couple strong impressions and a couple more interesting notes.
The Lava Bears Are Demanding Respect
The best team at the Mountain View Tournament turned out to be the Bend Lava Bears, who are a team flying under the radar of coaches and media. After a Spring season stuck over the mountains, the Lava Bears took advantage of their first chance to make an impression. Bend took on a Top 10 team in the Sheldon Irish, and won a hard fought game against the Irish, sweeping them in two very hard fought sets of volleyball action. After that win, Bend faced a familiar foe in 5A Top 10 Ridgeview, sweeping the Ravens and finishing undefeated on the afternoon. An experienced team that wanted respect went out and not only gave a reason to gain it, but will ultimately demand it as the larger picture begins to form. The Lava Bears have now earned that respect, but will they maintain this momentum over the long term?
Redmond On The Rise??
After a Spring season to forget, the Panthers are already better off now than they were all of last “season”. They finished 2-13 in the Spring, but have started 2-0 with a stunner win over a Top 10 5A South Albany team and a follow up victory over Central. A seasoned roster consisting of nine seniors and two underclassmen, the pieces might finally be falling into place for the Panthers to be a serious contender in the Intermountain Conference. I’m not declaring it yet as it would be premature to do so, but its certainly enough to garner attention and they certainly deserve a shout out for their strong start to 2021.
Sheldon’s Inexperience Shows But They Are Still Legit
How exactly can you be inexperienced and have a roster consisting of four seniors and six juniors? Well when your team spent all of last season limited to a single region, its understandable that the team might be a bit off par against a quality team from a different area. Although they lost to Bend in a sweep, they fought hard in their 25-21 and 25-18 set losses. Sheldon recovered nicely to sweep an all-familiar foe in South Medford to draw 1-1 in the tournament. With a non-conference with Canby, the Central Catholic Tournament, and other opportunities on the horizon, Sheldon will have chances to gain more experience and be better prepared when the state tournament comes. In essence, there’s no reason to be concerned in Eugene.
South Albany’s Seniors Are Gone, Can The Others Step Up?
The first tournament of the season was a challenge for the youthful Redhawks, with an emphasis on the youth. Getting beat out by a seasoned Redmond squad, they recovered to take down 6A Mountain View but its clear that there’s much to work on in Albany. With over half of their team from last season departed and only one senior, every ounce of experience these girls can get will be critical to having a strong season in the ever strengthening Mid-Willamette Conference. This season can be a great one still for South Albany or it can turn into a huge struggle, but its ultimately up to them which one they decide they allow themselves to have. For now, South Albany’s potential keeps them as a bubble Top 10 5A team.