Pirates make progress

PERRYDALE — Perrydale’s volleyball team is on a mission to grow up on the court as quickly as possible.

Team co-captain McKenna Desnoyers is one of two seniors on the roster that features three freshmen and three sophomores.

Desnoyers was thrust into an unfamiliar role — leader.

“I’m used to always having girls older than me on the team,” Desnoyers said. “But I’m happy. Me and my teammate Jacki have taken leadership roles on the team. It’s new for me, but I like it a lot.”

The biggest challenge wasn’t anything related to developing volleyball skills. It was learning how to encourage.

“The toughest part has been learning how to give encouraging words,” Desnoyers said. “It did take a week or two to find words that didn’t come off as kind of mean.”

But as Desnoyers has grown into her role as a team leader, the Pirates have grown on the court.

Perrydale defeated Falls City 25-13, 25-13, 25-20 on Sept. 13 after defeating Lowell on Sept. 9.

“They showed more trust in each other,” coach Denise Dickey said. “There was more communication and they’re starting to feel more comfortable in their roles. They’re focused on not hitting as hard as you can, but focusing on ball placement.”

Part of that comfort came from leaders lending a helping hand and advice during practices and matches.

“The younger girls, they’re improving every single day,” Desnoyers said. “We’ve worked hard to make everyone feel comfortable and happy on the court.”

The Pirates host C.S. Lewis Thursday before playing Heppner and Dufur on Friday and Willamette Valley Christian on Monday.

The Pirates, which entered the week with a 3-5 mark overall and 1-2 in Casco League play, knows each match becomes more crucial if they want a chance to get to the postseason.

“We want to secure a spot in the league playoffs,” Dickey said. “That’s what I’m focused on. I’m tweaking the lineup still. I’m trying to get my best offensive players in a position that they can score more consistently.”

The key will be players fully embracing their roles and adjusting to changes on the fly.

“They need to be more aggressive,” Dickey said. “The younger girls are used to middle school ball where they served 10 points in a row. They’re learning to play the point through the end. Instead of being OK with the ball hitting the floor and saying we’ll get the next one, they need to return those.”

Desnoyers is confident Perrydale has what it takes to make a run.

“We’re playing to win,” she said. “There’s been a lot of change, but I think we can do it. I believe in my team and I think that we’re going to have a good season.”

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