Laced With A Senior Core and Seeking Their First Title Since 1989, The Dalles Winning Window Is Now

The Dalles — There have been more than a handful of great stories to come out this volleyball season, and the story of The Dalles Riverhawks is no exception. 2015 was the last playoff appearance for this program, which occurred when they were still in Class 5A, with 2022 being their first season in Class 4A and a restructured state landscape. This campaign has been nothing short of remarkable: 17-2 record and tabbed #2 in the OSAA rankings heading into the home stretch of the season. With a conference title all but wrapped up, the Riverhawks are primed for a first-round bye in the 4A playoffs, and a winning window for The Dalles to win their first state title since 1989 is here and now.

An amazing thing that stands out about the Riverhawks is not only their defense, but exactly how deep and balanced that it is. The Dalles have four deep pieces that are all over the floor defensively: Lydia DiGennaro, Kennedy Abbas, Zoe LeBreton, and Jeilane Stewart. These four all play different roles offensively, but they come together to form a lethal combination that creates headaches for opposing offenses, as they all are almost dead even this season in digs and patrol the floor like hawks searching for prey. There’s also a brick wall that sits at the net, formed by Laci Hoylman, Zoe Dunn, and Kennedy Abbas, along with occasional contribution from Jeilane Stewart. With so many playmakers on defense, it forms a shield that has played a major role in where The Dalles currently sit in the state landscape. Just like the old adage goes, “Defense wins championships”, and the Riverhawks are a defensive heavy squad.

Photo: Elite Oregon Girls

Onto the flip side of the coin, the offense is just as tough to handle as the defense, but with some spice on the side. The Riverhawks have a niche for landing serves in the weak spots of opponents and picking up aces, creating another variable for opponents to account for. Jeilane Stewart serves as their engine offensively, setting up her outside threats Kennedy Abbas and Zoe LeBreton to lay down the hammer, and Jeilane really serves as a great all-around athlete that can do just about anything for the Riverhawks. With their junior/senior core serving as their primary force, the Riverhawks have a small window to utilize them and take a crack at the state title.

The 4A volleyball landscape is perhaps the most top heavy one in the state, with defending champion Cascade, top-ranked Marshfield, Eastern Oregon power Baker, and others all making claims for why they could make some noise in the playoffs. The Riverhawks are in for a tough challenge and will have to weather the strength of many beasts if they want to bring home a blue trophy this November. The future is always a blur and tunnel vision is dangerous, but The Dalles are taking things one game at a time and tuning up down the stretch. The Riverhawks are in a prime spot to shoot their shot at 4A glory, and their winning window is here and now to bring home their first title since 1989.

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