Five experienced players are leading the way for the 1A Long Creek/Ukiah junior varsity volleyball team as the season starts.
Returning to the court are seniors Gladys Johnson and Alea Douglas, junior Brook Harrison and sophomores Dorotha Johnson and Jenny Kim.
Rounding out the roster of 12 are one more senior, three more juniors, one more sophomore and two freshmen.
Linda Studtmann, on the Long Creek side, has helped coach for five years, and Reagan Enriquez, for Ukiah, has led the team for 10 years.
Both say the season is progressing well for the team.
“They’ve improved on communication this year, working together and being supportive of each other,” Studtmann said.
Enriquez added, “The seniors this year are doing a great job at holding the team together with better attitudes.”
Studtmann said the seniors have taken on leadership roles, and they’re good at evaluating the team’s strengths and weaknesses
She said sophomore Jenny Kim is also an asset to the team, helping the new foreign exchange students learn some basic volleyball moves, and Harrison has stepped in as the main setter.
So far, the Mountaineer/Cougars are 1-2 with a 3-0 win over Harper and losses to Burnt River and Mitchell/Spray in matches that went to five sets.
Gladys Johnson said the games were competitive.
“They were fair and fun to play,” she said. “Volleyball is my favorite sport, so I always like coming back.”
She said she enjoys seeing the foreign exchange students grow as they learn the game.
Senior Jenny Lee from South Korea is new to the sport and said she appreciates the help and encouragement she receives from her coaches and teammates.
Both Gladys Johnson and Douglas have been playing volleyball since junior high school. Douglas said she’s looking forward to senior year in the sport.
“I’m really glad we have a great team this year and great players,” she said. “I want to make great memories. I love spending time with my friends and being active, and I love the sport.”
Studtmann said the team’s successes have been good for morale, but more important is having good communication and team unity.
The maturity the team has with returning athletes helps them as they maintain focus “in the stress of the game” and continue, and not fall apart, she said.
“I love being with the kids and seeing them learn and get excited over successes,” Studtmann said. “I enjoy seeing how they pull the team together and how they progress.”
She added, “I know we’ll have some tough competition, but I think we’re up for the challenge.”
2018 Long Creek/Ukiah volleyball schedule
Sept. 20: @ Prairie City JV at 5 p.m.
Sept. 21: vs. Mitchell/Spray in Long Creek at 5 p.m.
Sept. 22: @ Adrian JV at 11 a.m. (MT)
Oct. 1: @ Pilot Rock at 4 p.m.
Oct. 5: @ Burnt River in Unity at 4 p.m.
Oct. 6: vs. Jordan Valley in Dayville at 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 13: @ Crane and Dayville/Monument in Monument at 12 p.m., 3 p.m.
Oct. 18: vs. Huntington in Long Creek at TBD