The Celts make a long-awaited return to the volleyball court

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On Friday, February 26, Marion County went from “extreme” risk to “high” risk, meaning school gyms can accommodate up to 50 people at a time and the volleyball team McNary could finally prepare to have a season.

Ellie Dean prepares to put the ball in a 2019 game. Dean is one of four seniors returning to the McNary roster (File).

The McNary volleyball team has not been together in the school gymnasium for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After other traditional fall sports got the green light to begin Season 2 activities, volleyball players had to wait patiently to see if they would be able to have a season – the counties at risk ” extreme “can only have six people in the gym at one time.

On Friday, February 26, Marion County went from “extreme” risk to “high” risk, meaning school gyms can accommodate up to 50 people at a time and the volleyball team McNary could finally prepare to have a season.

While many of the girls on the squad have played club ball over the past year, the Celtics have only been able to do team conditioning and training due to OSAA restrictions, so once they were able to go back inside and practice with some real volleyball, it was a joyous occasion.

“We love every minute,” said McNary head coach Crystal DeMello. “We have been training outdoors since the start of the pandemic, so we are more than happy to be able to come back into the field and undergo technical training. I want these girls to take this opportunity.

With the constant fluidity that surrounds volleyball and other preparation sports, DeMello is grateful for the ability of McNary’s athletic director Scott Gragg to communicate with the coaching staff about what they are allowed to do each week. .

“(Gragg) has done a great job of keeping us up to date with what we can and can’t do. Being on the same page is crucial, ”said DeMello. “We’re going to play until they tell us we can’t.”

The Celtics lost five senior team members last season, including three players from all leagues, but they return one of the league’s best outside hitters to senior Taylor Ebbs.

Ebbs – who will play softball at the University of Kentucky next year – was an honorable all-conference selection last season with 140 kills and 106 digs. She is also one of the undisputed leaders of the team according to DeMello.

“Taylor is a leader. You can’t match its toughness and competitiveness, ”DeMello said. “It’s bittersweet because I know Taylor wanted a full senior season to end her volleyball career, but she’s really excited to at least have the chance to play one last time.”

The Celtics’ other senior ghosts are key frontline players in Jasmine Zepeda and Trinity Kampstra, as well as passer Ellie Dean. In addition, McNary fires a sophomore and a pair of juniors who enjoyed significant playing time last season.

Maddison Corpe was the team’s top passer in freshman last season and junior Maddox Snider is expected to be one of the team’s best hitters. Alexis Eldridge, a junior, will likely be the team’s first Libero.

“I’m really excited to see what Maddison can do this year. She trained really hard, ”DeMello said. “Maddox is one of our most versatile players. She was mostly a first row player, but really worked on her ability to play second row. “

Freshmen Isabella Rodriguez and Emily Blagg, along with junior Emily Lettenmaier, were three of the top players on the JV squad last season and are expected to play a role in college roster.

“Our goal is to compete with everyone we play with this season and get some of our youngest girls to take on a more college mindset. We also want to be a mentally strong team and have girls who continue to grow in their volleyball IQs, ”said DeMello.

Although spectators are not permitted in the building, fans can watch McNary volleyball games on NFHSnetwork.com. The Celtics will travel to Dallas to open their season on Tuesday, March 9 for a game at 7:15 p.m.

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