The Lady Riverhawks and first-year Coach Julie Summers kicked off the 2021 season by participating in a 10-team tournament Aug. 27 at Mountain View High School in Bend and they had a good performance. The Hawks faced Class 6A teams Bend and South Medford and the 5A Central Panthers in pool play. The Dalles then met the Class 6A South Eugene Axemen in bracket play and lost 2-0.
“We played well; we went up against some tough teams and we made some great plays,” said Summers, who took over as the Hawk head coach halfway through the spring season in March. “This gave us a chance to see what we need to work on. We tried different rotations to find the one that will get the job done and allow for us to be most successful. We’re excited to get back into the gym this week to work on what we need to fix and be ready for Thursday’s home match.”
The Dalles will face the North Marion Huskies of the Class 4A Tri-Valley Conference in the first match of the 12-game regular season Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at The Dalles Middle School. The Hawks will be road warriors throughout September. They play three tournaments and seven matches all on the road this month.
The Dalles won’t play a home game again until Oct. 7 when it meets the Crook County Cowgirls at the Wahtonka campus gym. The Dalles High’s Kurtz gym is closed because of a remodeling and construction project. The Hawks play the first match of their eight-game Intermountain Conference schedule Sept. 21 at Pendleton High School at 6:30 p.m.
“I only knew about four girls on the team in the spring and we won a few games, and we reached the IMC District playoff semifinals,” said Summer. “This is my first full season, because I only coached the team for three weeks in the spring. I’m super excited to see some new faces and I’m excited about this year, because I hope to see it as a foundation to help provide The Dalles with a strong volleyball program for many years to come.”
The Dalles had 40 players turn out for the opening day of practice Aug. 16. The group is comprised of one freshman team, two JV squads and the varsity team.
“We’re just trying to put together a schedule for these teams,” said Summer. “It’s a great problem to have though in having too many kids as opposed to not having enough kids.”
The 10-member Hawks varsity squad includes one senior, Delaney Bailey, along with four sophomores and five juniors. The Riverhawks will rely on sophomore setter Jeilane Stewart and junior Kennedy Abbas to help lead their offense. Returning varsity players who will also help provide the Hawks with a strong team include juniors Kaylee Fleming and Zoe Dunn, and sophomore Zoe LeBreton.
“We’ve got some great kids, they’re all working hard in practice, and they have a great work ethic,” said Summers. “Kennedy is really going to be big force for us and Jeilane is a pretty incredible player too. Everyone is excited because they had a taste of winning during the spring and they’re accustomed to playing together and running a faster paced game. They’re ready to do that again and just keep building on the success that we had during those three weeks in the spring.”