Oakridge — Don’t sleep on the Lowell Red Devils, their cute diaper cladded logo might look innocent and harmless, but they have the potential to torch you just like a top team in 2A. Actually, they might be the real threat to the 2A #1 Salem Academy. You heard that right: Not Gaston, Stanfield, Grant Union, etc., but the Lowell Red Devils. How can I make such a preposterous assertion? Let’s layout the argument and reasoning….
I have seen almost every 2A Top 10 this season with the exception of Monroe, Coquille, and Reedsport, taking away every different playing style, team build, and potential. Talking to a couple of Lowell girls, they wholeheartedly acknowledge the gap between the Salem Academy and everyone else in 2A, but they got a real taste of how well they square up last weekend in Creswell. They were swept by the slimmest of margins: 25-23 and 25-22, an amazing performance from a team coming back from a COVID shutdown a week earlier. Going head to head is usually a great start to building your credibility to being a state contender.
Seeing them in action on Saturday in Oakridge, I admired their fight for every single point, their defensive rotation, and chemistry among other things. It wasn’t always pretty, just like every other team I watch in a given day, but it was certainly eye opening to the potential that they have as a program. I do want to start with a huge shoutout to their libero Annabelle Pickett, who impressed me more than any other player on that floor Saturday. No matter how hard their opponent hit it, how sharp of an angle, or how much room she had to makeup, she was right there in the mix of things. Her digs were precise and consistent, something that helped keep the Red Devils moving on the counterattack, with opponents looking for a way around her in order to grab the point. She’s the digger every program fears to face, and being only a sophomore, that makes it even more impressive.
Captains Lydia Plahn and Alexis Curry are flexible, interchangeable pieces that can fit into a variety of roles on the go, showing off their volleyball IQ and intangible instincts to adjust to each situation on the fly and without any notice. Its clear to see why they are the captains, as that type of floor leadership keeps a team calm and moving along no matter the circumstances. Aly Curry and Amerika Baszler reached above and beyond throughout my observation, trying to find creative ways to bank points or doing something as simple as being in the right place at the right time to make a play. Sitting at 5-6 apiece, they won’t be the ones smashing a kill in your face, but they can thread the needle to get the ball down or split a block to produce a point on the scoreboard. They’re scrappy, instinct players who are extremely valuable on the floor for Lowell.
To put a cherry on top, they’re 13-3 on the season and 8-0 in conference entering their showdowns with Monroe on Monday and Tuesday. If they pass both of those tests, they’ll be indisputable as the top threats to the Salem Academy in the 2A landscape. Stanfield is solid, Gaston has the potential, and so on, but Lowell is the only one that has actually went head to head with the Crusaders and measured up nicely. They’re cram jamming six games into the next nine days, so how well they perform and close out the season will be a huge measurement to their playoff potential and vision this fall. Here come the Red Devils, don’t sleep or they’ll sneak up and put you in your place. If they make it to the final four, they’ll be the ones laughing all the way back to Lowell from Redmond.