In their first competition of the season Thursday, Carey High School volleyball players knew they'd be on their heels awaiting the powerful punches of Camas County's All-State hitter Katelyn Peterson.
But the reality is even more challenging when it comes to actually defending 6-0 junior Peterson, who led the Mushers to their first State 1A Division 2 volleyball title last October with an amazing 52 kills against Dietrich in the finale.
Her kills come hot and heavy.
Peterson nailed 21 kills as Camas County (2-0, 1-0 league) opened its state title defense with a 25-9, 25-13, 25-13 Northside Conference victory over Carey. Helping out was newcomer Carlie Strom (10 kills, 16 successful serves including 5 aces). Strom was Camas manager last year.
In the first game, Strom served 11 straight winners erasing an early 2-0 deficit and putting Camas in command 12-2 for first-year head coach Shelli Schroeder, who was Ben Stroud's assistant on the title team. Peterson had 8 kills in the first game, 6 in the second and 7 in the third.
Sophomore Stephanie Moore of Camas (10 service winners) and Taylor Gorringe bedeviled Carey from the serving stripe in the third game.
It was a solid start for a Musher program that not only lost eight-time national junior college championship coach Stroud, but also graduated three All-Staters—setter Erica Phantarasen plus outside hitters Megan Stampke and Sunnie Vouch.
There wasn't much to do but watch, battle gamely and learn under fire for the Panthers of seventh-year coach Kathy Whitworth.
"We're pretty young and it's going to take us a while. Definitely rebuilding," she said. "Only (juniors) Micaela Adamson and Darby Northcott have much varsity experience."
Junior Taylor Castle showed willingness to block against the fearsome Peterson barrage, and Carey junior setter Nicky Gomez demonstrated promise in all aspects of the game.
Camas swept the triangular meet with a win over Glenns Ferry, and Carey played better in a 25-11, 22-25, 15-11 loss to Glenns Ferry in the best-of-three non-league affair.
"Micaela hit much better against Glenns Ferry and so did Darby. And (junior) Kelly Patterson dug the ball real well in that match," Whitworth said. "From those first matches, we will only improve and be a much better team by the end of the season."
That's certainly what Carey (17-10) did last fall—winning 12 of its final 14 regular-season matches en route to second place in the Northside Conference tournament and a berth in the State 1A Division 2 tournament at Lewiston High.
Carey graduated four key seniors in Amy Ellsworth, Jenni Murphy, Jessica Parke and Taylor Whitby.
Returning on varsity are two seniors, Danie Hennefer and Lorene Andrews. Juniors besides Adamson and Northcott are Castle, Patterson and Gomez. The sophomore is Erika Zarate. On coach Dick Simpson's JV are Sara Purdy, Angelica Zarate, McKayla Mecham, Morgan Parke, Jaide Parke, Daphne Kirkland, Ashlee Durtschi and Valerie Castro.
The Panthers (0-2, 0-1) visited The Community School Tuesday and travel to state runner-up Dietrich (2-0, 1-0) Thursday, Sept. 2. Coach Traci Perron's Dietrich Blue Devils graduated three seniors including All-State libero Halie Stoddard, but Dietrich returns two All-State juniors, Moriah Dill and Jessica Perron.