Bruins VB

In the spring of 2021, the Columbia High Bruins form a huddle. Both the players and the spectators in the background wear masks.

A district playoff spot is one of the goals for the Columbia High volleyball team this fall.

The Bruin netters return to a regular fall season starting with their first match Friday at Riverside High in Boardman under new head coach Heidi Shultz. She returns to the program, having coached the Bruins for 10 years before taking time off four years ago.

Shultz is more than familiar with her players, as the coach and coordinator of White Salmon’s youth club volleyball program for many years. She’s especially familiar with two of her varsity players, daughters Hannah and Jessica Polkinghorn.

“A lot of the girls I’ve coached in club,” Shultz said. “It’s great being out there with them again.”

Hannah is a returning honorable mention all-leaguer and one of four seniors who Shultz said will lead the Bruins this season. She will be joined in the starting lineup by outside hitter Chanele Reyes, setter Chloe Clifford and Ella Wilson, who Shultz moved from setter to outside hitter.

In addition to the four seniors, Shultz said a group of strong sophomore players will see a lot of varsity action this season.

To make it to district, the Bruins will have to finish among the top three teams in Trico League matches. Columbia was 2-5 in the COVID-shortened spring season earlier this year. The Trico includes King’s Way Christian of Vancouver, which was unbeaten in league matches two years ago – the last full season of play. Shultz said La Center and Castle Rock also always seem to field competitive volleyball teams.

Shultz said she’s looking forward to getting the season started and “seeing how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”

One date local volleyball fans might want to circle is Sept. 7, when Hood River Valley visits Columbia High for a nonleague match.