BUTTE — The Corvallis volleyball team is at it again.
The Blue Devils have run roughshod over the rest of the Southwestern A, going undefeated in conference play. With a strong core returning, the success is no surprise. But there’s another level this team can hit.
“I think up until now, it’s just been skill set, team dynamic, rotational stuff,” Corvallis head coach Kasey Arceniega said. “But now until the state tournament, it’s mentality. Our mental toughness, our mentality when we’re behind, when we’re ahead. That’s something we’re going to work on. I’m going to try to put pressure on them as much as possible in drills and practice.”
The Blue Devils have found themselves ahead more often than not. Corvallis has a big advantage at the net, where three girls standing 6-feet or taller are lurking.
“It’s a big help, honestly,” Maureen Jessop said. “I don’t know how teams sometimes do it with short girls, because we have a hard time getting balls here and there. We work hard to make sure every girl who is playing is able to dig up balls like that.”
“I really like being up on the line with them, putting up big blocks,” Charlotte Powell said. “I like to think we kind of scare the girls, but it’s good to have that factor up to give our defense a chance of getting a ball up.”
However, coach Arceniega believes having size up front can make it more challenging for her team defensively, especially in the back row.
“For our defense, we’re working on picking up a lot of shots just because teams have had to work around that,” Arceniega said. “Giving us different types of balls, offspeed, over the block, so defensively it’s been a challenge for our backcourt. That’s something we’ve been working on just because it’s been harder for teams to hit over a block.”
Corvallis is looking to improve upon its third-place finish at the Class A state tournament last year. The Blue Devils have loads of state tournament experience on their roster and built strong chemistry over the past few years.
“Everyone just kind of has a puzzle piece that they are. Everyone just works together and loves the game, which is hard to find,” Jessop said.
Added Powell: “I love it. I love our team together, we’re excited for everyone. Your teammate gets a kill, we’re more excited for them than we are ourselves for getting kills, same with blocks and digs. We’re just a team, we want to do stuff for each other.”
Corvallis rolled through the Southwestern A district tournament, sweeping Stevensville in the championship game. Corvallis opens up the Western A divisional tournament Thursday at 4 p.m. against Polson.