It’s been a fun few weeks of watching and tracking action at the joint Sunset Summer Volleyball League. I had the opportunity to see every team at least once, but this won’t include every team, instead focusing on the biggest impressions from the near month-long action.
Scio: One of the two summer league hosts, the Loggers took fellow host Salem Academy and 4A contender Stayton both to three sets en route to a fourth-place finish. They had flashes of brilliance and ceiling potential, while also cracks in the surface of a more youthful team. No doubt they’ll be in contention for a league title when they bring it all together this fall, but their full scope capability will be better known once the season gets rolling.
Cascade: From the start of this league to the end, the defending 4A state champions were considered the favorites to take the title, and they did just that on Thursday as they took down league rival Stayton and 2A champion Salem Academy in the finals. Things came together down the stretch of play, as the Cougars looked very solid and better tuned than they started in early July. Cascade will be a 4A contender again as they look to repeat in 2022.
Salem Academy: The Crusaders didn’t always look the best oiled throughout July, but you can’t dispute the result of being league runner-up to 4A champion Cascade. Aly Herber will certainly return to form after a modest return from injury, and the team will eventually mold together to take aim at back-to-back 2A titles in 2022 as they still boast the strongest team in 2A entering the season.
Stayton: The Eagles will be a tough outing this season after a good showing in summer league action. Just like everyone else in the league, there’s some fine tuning to work on as the season closes in, but they’ll no doubt be a hard matchup for 4A opponents this fall. Stayton could be a dark horse candidate to compete for a blue trophy in 2022.
Gaston: Coming off their best finish in program history in 2021, the Greyhounds are now in the mindset of a new bar being set for success. The talent of some incoming freshman is undeniable, as was the chemistry and bond that grew throughout the course of July. Gaston will look much different than 2021, but there’s no reason why they can’t compete as a contender once everything is figured out.
North Salem: The largest school in this league, the Lady Vikings are transitioning back to 6A in 2022 and a new Salem-only conference. They came together to capture the silver bracket championship on Thursday, but much larger challenges are ahead as they head back to the top dogs of Oregon. The chemistry is real and they have an invested coach on their side, so now it looms as: How will it translate to 6A? Only time will tell.
Yamhill-Carlton: YC was a true wild card throughout summer league, going from moments of brilliance and momentum to times of disillusion and misfiring on the floor. A new coach is in place and that takes time to adjust with, as does the roster transition from last season. Moving to the Coastal Range League, it is fair to consider YC a favorite to win it in 2022.
Crosshill Christian: Talking with HC Julie Bennett, she believes 2022 could be a breakout campaign for the Eagles with a crop of talented girls coming into the program. The 1A squad has size and the potential is there, making them an exciting prospect to head to the playoffs this season, although St. Paul stands in their way of any conference title they might be seeking.