SOC Volleyball Capsules
COACH: Josh Rohlfing (seventh year).
LAST YEAR: 25-6, 14-0 SOC.
Chelsea Van LehnRS5-10Sr.
Corey Van LandinghamOH5-8Sr.
AT A GLANCE: Four first-team all-SOC standouts and one second-team selection are gone from last year's Ashland squad that went 14-0 in winning its first SOC championship since 1999. Among that graduated group were conference player-of-the-year Marla Morin and runner-up Megan Beugli. The SOC title was the Grizzlies' second under Rohlfing's direction and 12th since 1984. ... Three players with starting experience return, headlined by Van Lehn, the team's fifth member of the 12-girl all-SOC first team in 2002. Rohlfing is looking for more big things out of Van Lehn this fall. Chelsea last year hit at around .600 for the year, which is phenomenal at any level, says last season's conference coach of the year. It's comparable to a (baseball) batting average. Part of that was having Marla (Morin) offset her. The biggest part is that she's really good. Nevada-Reno, Idaho, Chico State and Portland State are some of the collegiate programs that have shown interest in Van Lehn, but, according to Rohlfing, Right now, she says she just wants to enjoy the season. ... Ashland, ranked fifth, went a disappointing three-and-out at the state tournament last fall, as a 1-2 mark in pool play wasn't good enough to advance to the quarterfinals. ... The Grizzlies' perfect 2002 was the sixth time a team has gone unbeaten in the SOC since 1984.
COACH: Ron Beick (10th year).
LAST YEAR: 9-10, 9-5 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: The SOC's third seed by virtue of a third-place tiebreaking victory over Crater last season, North Medford looks like a title contender in 2003. The Black Tornado lost just one starter from a year ago, first-team all-league pick Stacey Casebier. Only two other seniors were on the roster, although a few other varsity members are also gone. Returning all-SOC second-team selections Tarkon and Walters are a talented duo along the front row, and setter Munson, honorable mention in 2002, is a proven distributor. Those three join Jensen, Christy, Lawson and Siebenlist to give North a whopping seven players who gained starting experience last fall. It's a good, quality group of girls, says Beick, whose team fell to visiting Glencoe in Round 2 of the state playoffs last year. They're working extremely hard, have set their goals high and are learning every day. ... Ashland head coach Josh Rohlfing believes the Tornado's 2003 tale will rely largely on two players. Their key for them to be successful is how good Jessica (Walters) is and how good Laura (Tarkon) is, says last fall's conference coach of the year. Rohlfing is particularly impressed by Walters' potential. She's the real deal, he says. If she keeps her head in it and works hard, she's a (NCAA Division I) player.
COACH: Bruce Myers (10th year).
LAST YEAR: 18-11, 10-4 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: Myers and North Medford's Ron Beick started their SOC head-coaching careers the same season and now stand as the conference's longest-tenured coaches. Neither has missed the playoffs since coming to the league, and Beick's Black Tornado boasts four SOC crowns to three for Myers' Indians. Included is a split conference title between Roseburg and North in 1996. ... Always big along the front line, the Indians are again among the SOC's tallest teams. Still, Myers claims it's a down year in terms of the Indians' height. I've only got two 6-footers, Myers says. I'm used to having three or four. ... Waldron was the only freshman on a senior-dominated all-SOC first team last fall. For that matter, she was the only underclassman. The other two returning first-team performers off the 12-girl squad ' Ashland's Chelsea Van Lehn and Eagle Point's Ashley Curtis ' are both seniors this year. She's very athletic, very strong and she has absolutely great instincts, Myers says of Waldron, who he first coached when she was 13. For a sophomore, she hits around the block awful well. ... Roseburg's senior star of a year ago, 6-3 Kristen Bitter, is now starting as a freshman for the University of Oregon team. She's playing well, Myers says. I'm ecstatic.
COACH: Briana Groves (second year).
LAST YEAR: 10-10, 6-8 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: A 3-1 start gave way to a 3-7 slide and disappointing finish in SOC play a year ago for the Eagles, who had been tabbed third in the preseason coaches poll. Aubrey Harrington, who went on to earn first-team all-league honors in her senior campaign, underwent an emergency appendectomy, and EP was 0-3 in her absence to begin its descent. Our team went downhill from there, Groves says. ... According to Groves, chemistry ' the lack of which was a problem a year ago ' is now a strength for the Eagles. The girls are really excited for this year, Groves says. They are working their butts off. There's a lot of maturity. ... Curtis provides one of the conference's more intimidating presences at the net and is one of only three first-team all-SOC performers returning. She is extremely talented, and she's very coachable, Groves says. She's willing to do whatever she needs to do to improve herself. She's just a fun kid to coach. ... Lucas and Grieve, the coach's daughter, were both second-team selections in 2002. Only Roseburg brings back as many players as the Eagles' three off last fall's all-SOC first and second teams. ... Joining EP's six returning lettermen is a talented group that helped the '02 JV squad to success. Many of the Eagles have played continuously since last fall.
COACH: Steve Levesque (third year).
LAST YEAR: 3-11 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: Second-team all-SOC setter Ashley Bellum, who graduated, is the only player Grants Pass lost off last year's team. Glovinsky, however, was the only other Caver to garner all-league recognition in 2002, getting honorable mention. ... Levesque, who believes the last time GP made the state playoffs was 1992, when the Cavers took fifth at the state tournament, thinks his experienced crew has a shot at the postseason this fall. I think we're in the top group, battling for a spot, says the former North Medford head and assistant coach. (The players) believe that they're gonna do well. They just have this attitude. ... Levesque has liked what he's seen in preseason jamborees. We ball control real well, he says. We're not making a lot of mistakes on defense, on serve receive and those sorts of things. So that gives us a shot. If we can serve and score on offense, we'll do pretty well. ... Claflin, Tardieu and Jessup have caught the coach's eye through strong work ethics. Shanna Claflin right now has really stepped up, he says. Katie Tardieu is a much-improved outside hitter and defensive player. (Jessup) is gonna be tough to put the ball down on. She has a real heart for the game. ... GP will find out where it stands early, hosting Eagle Point and Roseburg and traveling to Crater as the SOC slate starts with three matches this week.
COACH: Adam Wagman (first year).
LAST YEAR: 5-9 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: If new head coach Wagman can do what he did last fall, many at South Medford will be happy. In his second and final season as head coach of Glencoe, Wagman brought his Crimson Tide to Medford for a second-round state-playoff match at North Medford, and he left a winner in five games. The Panthers, on the other hand, have yet to beat the Black Tornado in an SOC match, a streak of 17 years. Wagman, however, is more interested in establishing the South program for years to come than gaining any single victory. South's only made it to the state playoffs twice, says Wagman, recalling the 1995 and 2000 squads. We're trying to build on the success that other programs in the school are having. We're looking at the football, basketball, softball and soccer teams and saying, 'We, too, can be successful.' ... Blending height and athleticism in the middle, Mendenhall ' who made the all-SOC second team last year ' and Towry promise to be a touch matchup for opponents. Definitely, our middles are our strongest point, Wagman says. ... Anderberg, honorable mention all-SOC in 2002, has emerged as the Panthers' leader. I can't tell a kid to work that hard, as hard as she does, Wagman says of his captain. She's one of the most coachable kids I've ever worked with. ... Wagman is an Ashland High and Southern Oregon University graduate and coached at both in the past.
COACH: Leaf Jensen (seventh year).
LAST YEAR: 17-11, 9-5 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: Coming off back-to-back state-playoff appearances, Crater appears to be in a rebuilding mode this fall. The Comets lost five all-conference standouts from last year to graduation, a number matched only by Ashland. Right-side Dani Montgomery, honorable mention in 2002, was the one all-SOC performer that could have returned to the team, but she opted to concentrate on basketball. That decision leaves Crater with a league-low zero players with all-SOC credentials. The unflattering numbers, however, don't faze Jensen. We always feel like we have a shot, he says. Since we finally overcame the mental part of (winning) the first couple years, the kids in this program expect to win now when they step on the court. ... Hevern and Hoffman are the first freshmen to make the varsity roster from the start of the season during Jensen's tenure. Sophomores McMillin, Penkala and Davidson also project to be prime contributors. In other words, the Comets should be the SOC's youngest and least-experienced outfit. I'm not decided on what we'll do this year, Jensen says. It's the youth. I understand it'll be up and down all season. We'd love to make the playoffs, but I don't know how realistic that is. ... Bettencourt is Crater's leader and probably the best passer I've ever had on a team, Jensen says.
COACH: Tiffany Davis (first year).
LAST YEAR: 0-14 SOC.
AT A GLANCE: An assistant at Klamath Union the previous two years, Davis was named head coach last spring. She immediately set out to improve the Pelicans. We did a conditioning training camp in April, when I was hired, Davis says. That got 'em going; they hadn't really done that kind of thing before. This summer, we had another conditioning session and then training camp right before daily doubles. The kids are just in excellent shape. They are faster and jump higher, and that helps us in competition, because we're not very big. ... Other SOC coaches have already noticed improvement in KU at preseason jamborees. I would guarantee they don't lose all their games this year (as they did in 2002), says Ashland's Josh Rohlfing. I was shocked when I saw them play. ... The Pelicans are the lone team not to lose an all-league performer from last fall. Herron and Henry, both honorable mention, were KU's only such selections. They're pretty solid, along with Croxford, Davis says of her top players. ... In addition to her conditioning regimen, Davis is trying to emphasize fundamentals. The players have responded well so far. They are so willing to learn right now, Davis says. They take it in like a vitamin. ... Despite going 0-28 over the last two SOC seasons, the Pelicans are aiming high. Our goal is to be in the top four, Davis says. The girls believe they can be.