PRAIRIE CITY - Expectations are running high at Prairie City High School as the 2002 volleyball season begins, and second-year head coach Eva Saul said the future is looking bright as well.
The Panthers have 14 players on the roster with six of them being returning varsity players, but only one member of the team is a senior.
Last year Prairie City finished the season with a 5-5 record in Old Oregon League games and a 14-7 overall mark, tying Adrian for third place in the league.
The Panthers lost a coin flip to the Antelopes, and went to the District 4-1A Tournament as the OOL's fourth seed.
In the tournament, Prairie City knocked off Monument, the TriCo League's No. 1 seed, in the opening round before losing a three-set match to Cove.
Prairie City came back to defeat Adrian to finish the tournament in third place.
The Panthers return a pair of second-team all-league performers to the starting lineup in junior Brittany Reid and sophomore Lindy Black, who was also named a first-team district tournament player.
"Brittany is a strong hitter and setter, and I expect Lindy to really shine in her second year on the varsity," Saul said.
Other returning players include junior Eve Denton, who Saul said is another strong setter as well as being a strong server and a great defensive passer, and junior Cherise Ricco who is quick in the middle and does a good job with her defensive passing.
Junior Amanda Rockhill is also a returning player as is sophomore Danielle Smith.
"Amanda did a great job at the Crane Jamboree, she is our best defensive passer and will be playing a lot in the middle, and Danielle is a strong outside hitter who also has strong serving skills. She will be our back-up setter," said Saul. "Brittany, Lindy, Eve, Cherise, Amanda and Danielle will be our six starting players this year."
Other Panthers on the roster who gained experience on the junior varsity last season include the lone senior, Molly Gill, junior Nancy Story and sophomores Tiffany Sullens and Cierra Smith.
New players include freshmen Kayla Reid and Jill Martens, along with junior Nicole Lawrence, who transferred from Unity.
"The girls played real well at the Crane Jamboree and they won all three of their matches," Saul said. "Cove should have one of the strongest teams in the league, but I see us finishing in the top three. That's our goal this season."
Prairie City hosted a home tournament on Saturday, Sept. 7, and plays host to Long Creek on Friday, Sept. 13, with tip-off set for 1 p.m.