Oregon’s top high school volleyball players: Meet the state’s best middle blockers

We’re taking a position-by-position look at some of the top players in Oregon high school volleyball. Our third list focuses on the middle blockers.

There are hundreds of standout volleyball players in Oregon and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive. Use the comments section to share some information about some of the state’s other standout middle blockers.

Feature photo: Shelbey Nichol (Sweet Home)

Earlier: Setters | Liberos

Kendall Baldwin, Sr., Lakeridge

A four-year varsity player for the Pacers and a three-year starter, Baldwin was a second-team all-Three Rivers selection as a sophomore and a first-teamer last season.

Isabelle Blair, Sr., Powder Valley

Blair is a three-time all-league selection and two-time Class 1A all-state honoree, making the second team last season despite missing the last eight matches with a severe ankle injury. She finished with 199 kills (.294 hitting), 70 blocks and 41 aces (.913 serving). This school year, between Seasons 1 and 2, she had amassed 244 kills (.312 hitting), 50 blocks, 226 digs and 33 aces as of mid-March. “Her response (to her injury), even though disappointed, she never missed a practice and stood by her teammates every step of the way until the last ball fell to the floor,” Badgers coach Marji Lind said. “This past year, she has become such a leader and mentor. She helps the younger players and encourages them in a way I have never seen a senior do before. Belle truly celebrates the successes of others and gets more excited for others’ outstanding plays than she does her own.”

Emma Burlingame, Jr., Mountainside

Burlingame moved into the starting lineup as a freshman and led the Mavericks in blocks last season in helping them qualify for the Class 6A state tournament for the first time. This season, she again leads the team in blocks as well as hitting efficiency and is second in kills. 

Caroline Capper, Sr., Sheldon

Capper was a second-team all-Southwest selection as a junior, when she had 101 kills and 49 blocks to help the Irish get back to the Class 6A state tournament. She plans to play for Oregon State’s club team in the fall. “Caroline works hard in every drill in practice, and it shows in our games,” Sheldon coach Martine Wodke said. “She is always an available hitter and really focuses on her blocking. She is a quiet leader until a big play happens and her arms go straight up in celebration. She is a good teammate.” 

Tatum Chase, So., Catlin Gabel

Chase received all-Lewis & Clark honorable mention as a freshman for the playoffs-qualifying Eagles, finishing with 87 kills, 22 blocks and 23 aces. This season, not only has she continued her strong play at the net, she also leads the team in digs and has the second-highest serve receive rating. “Tatum was tasked with a lot of responsibility in her first high school season and did so with a ton of heart,” Catlin Gabel coach Jeannette Lee said. “She continues to impress this season in all-around fashion.”

Sofia Cooper, So., Central Catholic

After receiving spot duty in 29 matches last season, Cooper stepped into the huge void left by first-team all-state middle Mia Jordan, and she has delivered with 21 kills, five blocks and a .923 serving percentage with four aces as of mid-March.  

Anabelle Davidson, So., St. Paul

Davidson was a key contributor to the Buckaroos’ Class 1A state championship team as a freshman, finishing with 95 kills and 98 blocks and serving at 98 percent. She required surgery after injuring her knee playing basketball outdoors during the COVID-19 shutdown, and while she has been cleared to hit again at practice, she was ruled out of the shortened spring season, although her teammates still voted her a team captain. “She is the player on our bench jumping the highest and cheering the loudest,” St. Paul coach Les Hiller said.   

Brooklynn DeChent, Sr., Ridgeview

DeChent played behind all-state middle blocker Susanna Bailey and all-Intermountain pick Nicole Bossemeyer for last season’s Class 5A state champion. The Bushnell commit has hit .564 in her time in the spotlight with 16 blocks midway through the season. “It’s great to have an offensive threat in the middle,” Ravens coach Randi Viggiano said. “It creates opportunities for us to score.”

Anna Follett, Jr., Tigard

Follett plays middle and outside hitter for the Tigers, finishing her sophomore season with 65 kills and 129 digs and recently amassing 18 kills and 24 digs in a five-set match against Oregon City. “As her coaches, we are very proud of the athlete and person she is becoming,” Tigard coach Megan Norris said. “And she hasn’t yet reached her peak; you’ll definitely see more out of her. She has stepped up as a leader on the team through her hard work, honesty and intensity. She is versatile on the court and continually improving.”

Photo by Christopher Germano

Allaire Gilder, Sr., Santiam Christian 

Gilder moved from right-side hitter to middle blocker two seasons ago with much reluctance, but “Larry” (as Eagles coach Kelli Fitzpatrick calls her) has taken to the position while providing a much-needed counterbalance to Oregon State-bound teammate Emily Bourne’s seriousness. “Larry is so full of laughter. She knows how to lighten the mood, be silly, and we love having her in the gym,” Fitzpatrick said. “She loves the game of volleyball and is very dedicated.” 

Avery Hanson, Sr., Crater

Hanson had a breakthrough junior season, earning first-team all-Midwestern honors and helping the Comets qualify for the Class 5A state playoffs.

Alexis Hobie, Sr., North Eugene

Hobie took many years of dance classes growing up, and the footwork she learned there has translated to the volleyball court. The 2019 Midwestern player of the year and Class 5A all-state first-teamer had 316 kills, 29 blocks, 218 digs and 36 aces playing at middle blocker and outside hitter, giving her plenty of opportunities to also show off her dance moves celebrating a winning point. She has signed with Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. “Alexis has grown as a volleyball player to become a dominant force in our league and state,” Highlanders coach David Merrill said. “She always has a sharp wit and funny personality that helps her adapt to any troubling situation.” 

Avery Hutchins, Sr., Cottage Grove

Hutchins took on a prominent role last season for the Lions, making the all-Sky-Em first team and helping them advance to the Class 4A state playoffs.

Makenah Jackson, Sr., Central Catholic

Jackson transferred from Columbia River in Vancouver before last season and played a critical role opposite all-state middle Mia Jordan in the Rams’ rotation, leading the team with 114 blocks to go with 145 kills. This season, the University of Idaho signee is the team’s No. 1 option with a team-high 38 kills (.368 hitting) and eight blocks as of late March. “The team can always count on her solid block, powerful quick attack, a well-placed tip, and always going hard on the team cheers after a big point,” Central Catholic coach Kayla Hambley said. “Her positive and energetic personality keeps the team laughing, and her cheers and court presence are contagious.”

Photo by Ed McReynolds

Harper Justema, Sr., Summit

The two-time all-Mountain Valley first-team selection will head to the Ivy League and Columbia University this year. The 6-2 middle leads the Storm in kills and blocks this season. “Just amazing leadership and energy. A fireball on the court,” Summit coach Jill Waskom said. “She’s one of the most talented middles we have ever had.” 

Gretchen Kibbe, Sr., Valley Catholic

Kibbe this season moved from right-side hitter, where she was an all-Cowapa selection as a junior, to the middle opposite all-state second-teamer Maddie Klopcic, and through five matches (15 sets), she had 21 kills and was hitting .300. “She may not have the stats, but she is the heart of this team,” Valiants coach Becky Kemper said. “She brings leadership and the most positive energy and work ethic that raises everyone else to her level. I had to move her to the middle, and she is killing it. She’s not a tall player, but she is still getting powerful kills and blocking a lot of balls.” 

Maddie Klopcic, Sr., Valley Catholic

Klopcic last season was a first-team all-Cowapa selection and second-team Class 4A all-state pick in helping the Valiants reach the state final for a third consecutive season and win back-to-back titles, finishing with 260 kills (.311 hitting) and 63 blocks. She will play at the University of Puget Sound. “Maddie is one of our two ‘beasts’ that we get the ball to,” Valley Catholic coach Becky Kemper said. “She is such a positive, hard-working, competitive co-captain, and she is a presence at the net with her blocking. We rely on her offensive power from the middle more than any other player.” 

Jayda Lee, Sr., Glencoe

Lee is a three-sport standout for the Crimson Tide who is headed to BYU to throw the shot and discus for the Cougars. As a volleyball player, she earned first-team all-Pacific honors as a junior. 

Tatum Lubisich, Jr., Wilsonville

Lubisich, the younger sister of former all-NWOC middle Tenley Lubisich, has started all three seasons for the Wildcats, helping them reach the Class 5A final last season, when she had 54 kills and 30 blocks. She had a team-high seven blocks in their first four matches this season to go with nine kills and seven aces. “Tatum is a cornerstone of our game, a superb middle with the unique ability to switch as needed to any hitting position or even setter,” Wilsonville coach Nathan Blankenship said. “Versatile and dangerous, she owns the net with ferocity and is able to hammer from any place on the net.” 

Sydney Marshall, Sr., West Linn

Marshall can play in the middle and on the right side for the Lions and is an effective blocker at each, leading the team last season with 75 blocks and hitting .233. She is committed to play beach volleyball at Concordia University Irvine in Southern California, where she also can indulge another of her passions — Marshall models during her off time. “Sydney has been one of my most versatile players,” West Linn coach Emilie Wilmes said. “She is always willing to change positions or be put in wherever is needed.”

Tess Masingale, Jr., Jesuit

Masingale last season made quite the impact in her debut with the Crusaders, making the all-Metro and all-tournament first teams and earning second-team Class 6A all-state recognition with 188 kills and 30 blocks to help Jesuit win a second consecutive state title. Through seven matches this season, she had 44 kills (hitting .379) and 11 blocks.

Savannah Moore, Sr., St. Helens

Moore moved up from the all-Northwest Oregon second team as a sophomore to the first team last season, helping the Lions advance to the Class 5A state playoffs both years.

Shelbey Nichol, Sr., Sweet Home

Nichol has been selected to the all-Oregon West team each of the past two seasons, making the second team last season after averaging 8.9 kills and 4.8 solo blocks and serving 92 percent during a stretch of matches that led to the Huskies finishing second at the Class 4A state tournament. She plans to play at Linn-Benton Community College. “Shelbey is possibly the most overlooked player on my team — not by any of us, but by our opponents,” Sweet Home coach Mary Hutchins said. “Shelbey is one of the most active middles I have seen. She moves very well and gets out and roams the net. She has amazing block timing and makes herself available to hit. She sees the block and the court so well and she hits with power.”

Brooke Plemmons, Sr., Crescent Valley

Plemmons plays middle and right side for the Raiders, finishing with 20 blocks last season while performing an even more important role — she has recruited a new player to the program every year she has played. “Brooke will be the first player to make you laugh by doing something unexpected,” Crescent Valley coach Troy Shorey said.  

Julia Scher, Sr., South Eugene

Scher, a second-team all-Southwest selection as a junior with 53 kills (.256 hitting), 78 digs, 23 blocks and 17 aces, hopes to attend Yale University. She has become involved with student government and the Feminist Union during her four-year tenure. “Julia has blossomed into an incredibly well-rounded player and person over the last four years,” Axe coach Alicia Chamness said.

Jadah Schmidtke, Sr., South Albany 

Schmidtke, a Corban University signee, made the all-Mid-Willamette team last season in helping the RedHawks qualify for the Class 5A state playoffs. 

Sophie Scott, Jr., Catlin Gabel

Scott is one of the state’s top prospects in the Class of 2022, a University of California (Berkeley) commit who was a second-team Class 3A all-state selection for last season’s Lewis & Clark champion. She led the team with 43 blocks (16 solo) to go with 162 kills and 52 aces. “Sophie’s athleticism makes her a unique talent,” Eagles coach Jeannette Lee said. “More than her dominance on the court, she is a great leader and teammate. She challenges her teammates to be better daily but is also the ultimate hype-woman for them.”

Sophia Silva, Sr., Sisters

Silva has made the all-Oregon West team each of the past two seasons, making the second team as a junior when she finished with 100 kills, 20 blocks, 90 digs and 24 aces. “Sophie is a very smart and athletic middle,” Outlaws coach Rory Rush said. “She is a threat in the middle, and her quickness frustrates many opponents.”

Hallie Simmons, Sr., Newberg

Simmons transferred from McMinnville over the summer and became a key cog for the Tigers. She was a competitive swimmer from age 6 and competed at state and regional meets throughout her youth before the grind of playing two sports grew too wearing, leading her to decide as a sophomore to give up swimming for volleyball. “I had grown to love volleyball so much,” Simmons said. “In the end, I am so happy that I chose volleyball and I would do it again.”

Jazmine Smith, Sr., McMinnville

Smith won Pacific Conference player of the year honors and received Class 6A all-state honorable mention last season in leading the Grizzlies to their first conference title since 2004 and first state playoff win since 2013. The University of Montana-Western commit had 191 kills (.426 hitting), 39 blocks, 43 digs and 25 aces (.933 serving). “Jazi has some of the quickest hands that I’ve seen, which leads to her putting down some booming kills,” McMinnville coach Ben Patterson said.

Kalayla Tanksley, So., Hillsboro

Tanksley has been one of the top players as part of the Spartans’ youth movement this season, with 10 aces and three kills in a victory over Milwaukie and three aces, two kills and a block in their match against Wilsonville. 

Danielle Tsague, Jr., Portland Christian

Tsague has played all across the front row and even set at times for the Royals during her first two-plus season with the team, helping them win the Class 2A state title as a freshman in 2018 and place third last season, when she was a first-team all-state selection. 

Alexa vanderSommen, Sr., Tigard

vanderSommen has had a breakthrough season. She hit .455 in a five-set match against Oregon City playing alongside twin sister Sophia, who plays setter and defensive specialist and is a standout on the softball diamond, where she’ll play for Linfield next spring. “Alexa is surprisingly quiet and timid for such a powerful hitter,” Tigard coach Megan Norris said. “She is very sweet and a super-supportive teammate who has come out this year very strong.” 

Photo by Christopher Germano

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