Corvallis — At this time last year, the Raiders were opening up eyes as a relative unknown by taking a set from the Jesuit Crusaders at the Southridge Tournament. 12 months later, Crescent Valley has a fourth-place finish under their belt and retain a youthful core of talented athletes that are hungry to bring a title to Corvallis. There are some new faces on the Raiders roster, but most of their impact players and pure core are back for another run at a blue trophy this season. Here are some EOG observations from one of their final practice sessions before the season:
The chemistry and mood around that program is beyond strong, such a loose environment with girls that not only get along, but they can find positives even in the most disappointing of plays. The support of each other is a strength that will take them far, and the entire squad is sold on what their mission is for the season, winning a state championship.
Taelyn Bentley: Taelyn stood out the most in the practice session, reminding of the thunder she brings to the court each time out. Listed as a middle blocker, I would describe that as a vast understatement to what she brings to the floor. She’s a high IQ player that strives to be in the right spots all the time, she brings power to her strikes offensively with near sniper accuracy, and she will wear you down by constantly challenging you defensively. She was one of Oregon’s best blockers as a freshman in 2021, and it looks like she’s taken a leap forward for 2022.
Kamden Mitchell: Like a good neighbor, Kamden is there! She’s a rising star setter that will certainly be one of Oregon’s best by the time she’s done at CV. The best words to describe Kamden would be: Upbeat, supportive, accurate, and flexible. She acts as a setter, but she can do anything that is required of her on the floor. Whether it be dropping a ball over the net, set it to Bentley, Isabella Jacobson, Sophia Terwilliger, or anyone else, cover the middle on defense, or even throw up a block, Kamden will give it her best effort and ultimately keep a supportive attitude to her teammates.
Isabella Jacobson: She didn’t take as many reps as some of the others did in practice, but don’t make any mistakes about Isabella. As a freshman, she led the Raiders in kills per set and finished second in kills percentage behind Taelyn. Isabella is a workhorse on the offensive front, not afraid to give it her best swing or challenge the best in Oregon, and let’s not forget her royal stamina and ability to stay energized for long stretches of play. If she improves even slightly over what she did last year, Isabella deserves a seat at the best outside hitting roundtable, and the all-around roundtable discussion.
Danielle Street: One of the most overlooked names on the 2021 squad was Danielle, who served primarily as a defensive specialist on the team. While digging is an essential part of volleyball, it seems to be something vastly overlooked by the flashy spikes and walls going up. Danielle ranked third on the team in digs last year and took on the fourth most serves received last season as well, quietly filling in as a key part of a star-studded roster. In practice, Danielle looked solid in her digs and ability to patrol the middle of the court and look for her to get a larger role as a libero in the upcoming season.
Sofia Terwilliger: I love this kid for a few reasons: She’s does her job, she stays in her role, and she’s happy with it. Sofia was taking her best crack at things in practice on Monday, working on her kill accuracy and polishing up serves amongst other things. Entering her senior year, she sits in a rotation of stars in the hitting category with Isabella and Taelyn, but Sofia will be in the mix of things on each possession as a pure outside hitting threat. If Sofia keeps tuning up her accuracy and can land a few more kills, it could be a huge senior year for her.
Vivian Buford: Kind of like Isabella, she didn’t take as many reps as some of the others in practice on Monday, but she is a reliable partner to have on the floor. In short, Vivian does a bit of everything: Takes on serves, gives a helping hand, and even throws down a few kills. She would be what I would describe as a hybrid athlete: Put her anywhere and she’ll do the job to the best of her ability. She might not be the superstar or big number cranker, but Vivian is a key asset to have in the depth of this team.
Leah Mattson: Another underrated member of this program, Leah enters her senior season looking to do her part in getting Crescent Valley to a title. She too does a bit of everything, using a 5’9″ frame to cover the middle block and throw down some kills. Leah is a specialist on block defense and kills, doing a well enough job to keep her on the floor for 80%+ of sets that Crescent Valley plays in. Leah is another key role player that the Raiders will count on in their aspirations this fall.
Crescent Valley opens the season with a trip to South Albany on September 6th!