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

Over the next week, we’ll be 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. (Setters | Liberos)

There are hundreds of standout volleyball players in Oregon and these lists are not intended to be comprehensive! Let us know about any other middles you think should be added.

Brooke Womack (Sandy) photo by Taylor Balkom

MH Olivia Adamo, So., Oregon City

Adamo has made her mark as a sophomore in the middle for the Pioneers, contributing on offense and defense. “Olivia is a dynamic force as a middle hitter,” Oregon City coach Erica Frafjord said. “When she connects with the ball, it’s almost always a point for the Pioneers.”

MH Taelyn Bentley, Fr., Crescent Valley

Bentley had a team-high 28 blocks (26 solo) and 43 kills in the Raiders’ first 11 matches and is a big part of their turnaround from a 2-9 spring season — with a 10-2 mark at the season’s halfway point, they’d already matched their best win total since 2016. “Taelyn has times when she controls the net for points at a time,” Crescent Valley coach Troy Shorey said. “She is another player eager to improve with every trip onto the court.”

MB Mackenzie Berger, Sr., Gaston

A 6-2 force in the middle for the Greyhounds, Berger made the all-Northwest League second team as a junior. This season, she has helped propel them to an 18-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the Class 2A coaches poll. 

MB Stella Blaha, Sr., Cleveland

Blaha was a second-team all-PIL selection as a junior. She is hitting close to .300 this season and had more than 30 blocks during the Warriors’ 14-7 start (8-2 in league play). “Stella is a very smart middle who is a force defensively and offensively,” Cleveland coach Sydney Hammond said. “Her leadership on the court has made a huge impact on the team.”

MB Gracie Boeder, Sr., West Albany

Boeder is an avid baker who has played varsity since her freshman season. She made the PrepDig Oregon 5A all-state team as a junior. “She has so much versatility in her game,” Bulldogs coach Megan Wallace said. “She is quick, has phenomenal ball control and great hops to get up and be able to block even the biggest hitters.”

MB/OH Sydney Brewster, Jr., Sandy

Brewster started right away as a freshman and made the all-Mt. Hood second team that season. She also stars for the basketball and track teams at Sandy while juggling her responsibilities with her club volleyball team. “Sydney has stepped up into whatever role is best for the team, and she always leaves her best effort out on the court,” Pioneers coach Alyssa Perreira said. “She is consistently a kill/block leader for our team and plays a great defensive game in all six rotations.”

MB/RS Tatum Chase, Jr., Catlin Gabel

Chase is one of the players who has stepped into a bigger role with the absence of senior Sophie Scott, who suffered a torn ACL during the spring season. The two-time all-Lewis & Clark honorable mention pick had a team-high 15 blocks (seven solo) at midseason and was second in kills (63) to go with 53 digs. Eagles coach Jeannette Lee joked about Chase’s dance ability but turned serious when she said, “Tatum doesn’t know it yet, but her all-around play is essential to our success. She’s dominant in the front row, but it’s her ball control and defense that makes the difference for us.”

MB Sofia Cooper, Jr., Central Catholic

Cooper stepped into the lineup spot vacated by Mia Jordan following Jordan’s graduation and has done so admirably, making the all-Mt. Hood team as a sophomore and hitting a team-leading .475 with 102 kills and a team-high 20 blocks midway through this season. “Sofia is a total team player,” Rams coach Kayla Hambley said. “In the club world, she primarily plays outside and right-side, but during the high school season, our team needs her as a middle, and she steps into that role with confidence, putting her own spin on how to play the position. She puts ball away with technique that is rarely seen at the high school level, let alone in college.” 

MB Marley Hardgrave, Sr., Bend

Hardgrave committed to sign with Seattle University after a standout junior season for the Lava Bears, when she had 101 kills, 50 blocks and 15 aces during the spring and earned first-team all-conference recognition. “I have coached Marley for three years, and each year, she continues to improve both her skills on the court and her strength in the weight room,” Bend coach Kristin Cooper said. “She is extremely coachable, taking in all feedback and giving her best to make adjustments on the court. I am excited to see her verbal leadership this year.” 

MB Haley Heytvelt, So., La Salle Prep

Heytvelt, the No. 8 sophomore prospect in the state according to PrepDig Oregon, has teamed with junior Olivia Maulding to form one of the best 1-2 combos in the middle statewide. “Haley gets better every time she steps on the floor,” Falcons coach Anna Dillard said. “She is young, but very capable of dominating a game. Her length and high reach make her tough to defend when we are in system. She is a strong blocking presence and definitely a first line of defense at the net when she’s in the game.”

MB Isabelle Hill, Sr., Mazama

Hill started for the Vikings as a freshman, then she and her family — including sister Sandra, one of three triplets — moved from Klamath Falls. The two returned for their junior year, and Isabelle made the all-Skyline second team, finishing with 91 kills, 33 aces and 27 blocks in 11 matches. They have helped lead Mazama to a 17-1 record this season. “Isabelle brings a silent confidence and work ethic to those around her,” Mazama coach John Downey said. “Her stoicism in the face of adversity is unparalleled.” 

MH/RS Nyah Johnson, Jr., McDaniel

Johnson was a first-team all-PIL selection as a sophomore. She and teammate Janice Lee “keep the team going with their leadership on and off the court,” Mountain Lions coach Kyla Henry said. 

MB McKenzie Jonas, Jr., Crook County

Jonas was a first-team all-Intermountain selection as a sophomore, when she led the Cowgirls with 148 kills (3.1 per set) and 46 blocks while serving at a .917 clip (seven aces). “McKenzie is a good leader on and off the court,” Crook County coach Kristy Struck said. “She is a great example of a scholar-athlete, achieving on and off the court.” 

MB Lilly Lansing, So., Jesuit

Lansing figures to be the next great blocker to come through the Crusaders program. She moved up to the varsity squad for the Aloha match Sept. 21, and in her first five matches (12 sets), she had 20 kills (.341 hitting percentage) and five blocks. “Lilly has a keen sense of how to track the attacker and shut them down,” Jesuit coach Teresa Zimmerlee said.

MB Haylee Lent, Sr., Reedsport

Lent is the focal point of a team with an 18-6 record. Reedsport coach James Hixenbaugh said Lent “would have been MVP of our league if we had a real season last year, and my guess would be she will get MVP this year.” 

MH Tatum Lubisich, Sr., Wilsonville

Lubisich made the AVCA preseason All-America watch list and hasn’t disappointed during her senior season. She moved outside while teammate Ashli Edmiston was out with a sprained ankle and had 77 kills and 15 blocks through 14 matches. 

MB Ava Maciag, So., Nelson

Maciag has thrived during the Hawks’ inaugural campaign. She had 32 kills, 10 blocks (four solo) and 11 aces during the first half of the season. “Ava takes charge of the net and is super cool under pressure,” Nelson coach Lisa McBee said. “She reads the defense exceedingly well and makes great choices. She can tip and hit, always finding the right spot.”

MB Tess Masingale, Sr., Jesuit

Masingale announced herself to the state volleyball community as a freshman, when she came up from the JV team to help the Crusaders win their first Class 6A state title since 2015. She came back from a broken pinky suffered during the state tournament (and reinjured during club ball) to help lead them to a second consecutive championship as a sophomore. The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo commit and AVCA preseason All-American was hitting a team-best .454 with 79 kills and 16 blocks through 13 matches. “Tess sees the court really well and can place the ball in a lot of open spots,” Jesuit coach Teresa Zimmerlee said. “She is hard to stop when we get a good setter-hitter connection, and we are getting much better at getting the ball to her.”

MB Olivia Maulding, Jr., La Salle Prep

Maulding is a third-year varsity player who has the ability to take over a match with her blocking and hitting, as she did in the Falcons’ four-set victory over Wilsonville to open NWOC East play. “She has a court presence and is a versatile attacker in all three positions,” La Salle Prep coach Anna Dillard said. “She brings a competitive maturity to the team.”

MB Isabel Melean-Williams, Jr., Roosevelt

The Roughriders are 6-12, but Melean-Williams has stood out for the team. A Sept. 9 match against McDaniel showcased her all-around skills — 11 kills, two blocks, four assists, 32 digs and three aces in a five-set defeat. “She has a great attitude and keeps her team positive and driven,” Roosevelt coach Dee Chimuku said.  

MB Julia Mitchell, Jr., Damascus Christian

Mitchell was a first-team all-Valley 10 selection in the spring, when she led the Eagles in blocks and was third in kills. She had 17 kills, 9.5 blocks and seven aces at the DCS State Invitational. Volleyball season is about the only time you’ll find Mitchell indoors — whether hunting, fishing or driving her lifted Tahoe on the backroads surrounding Damascus, she spends most of her free time in the outdoors. “Julia brings an incredible amount of intensity and competition to our team,” said Damascus Christian coach Emily Russau. “We can always count on her to get the entire team pumped up and ready to play.”

MB Grace Nealy, Sr., West Albany

While teammate Gracie Boeder garners more attention, Nealy has quietly become the Bulldogs’ leading blocker, with a team-high 26 (eight solo) as of midseason. She was hitting .320 with 25 kills. “Grace has worked very hard to get to where she is,” West Albany coach Megan Wallace said. “She has become a force at the net and bringing an energy that you don’t often see up there.” 

MB Ella Nordquist, Sr., West Linn

Nordquist, who transferred to West Linn from Valhalla in San Diego the summer after her sophomore year, is a Western Oregon commit and an AVCA preseason All-American who became a key contributor for the Lions during the spring, when she hit .295 (37 kills) and had 12 blocks. “Ella’s high energy on the court is so contagious,” West Linn coach Emilie Wilmes said. “She will be a major weapon for us this season.”

MB Rayna Reynolds, Sr., West Linn

Reynolds, a three-year varsity player, plays opposite Western Oregon commit Ella Nordquist in the Lions rotation. As a junior, she had a team-high 20 blocks during the spring. “Rayna runs our net very well,” West Linn coach Emilie Wilmes said.

MB/OH Natalie Potter, Sr., Catlin Gabel

A two-time all-Lewis & Clark selection, making the second team during the spring season, Potter’s role has increased greatly this fall with Cal-Berkeley commit Sophia Scott sidelined with a torn ACL. She has a team-high 103 kills (four per set) to go with 12 blocks and 70 digs. “Natalie has grown tremendously since the spring, both in her skill and her leadership,” Eagles coach Jeannette Lee said. “Our team would not be the same without her willingness to step into the role that she herself has claimed.” 

MB Sophie Scott, Sr., Catlin Gabel

Scott was one of the most dominant players in Class 3A as a junior, making the all-Lewis & Clark first team and accepting a scholarship offer from the University of California, Berkeley. She tore her ACL during the spring and has missed her senior season. “While this is a very devastating reality, Sophie is doing everything she can to make the most of it,” Eagles coach Jeannette Lee said. “She has committed to her rehab and her team wholeheartedly, is active in helping with drills and is a valuable set of eyes during matches. She’s also her teammates’ best hype woman.”

MB Adaira Sleutel, Sr., Sweet Home

Sleutel played behind a couple of seniors who are now playing in college, but Huskies coach Mary Hutchins saw her progression over the course of the spring. “She really came on last year. She has worked really hard and improved her blocking,” Hutchins said. “She has really stepped up this year and is playing all six positions on the court.” 

MB Ella Smith, Jr., Corvallis

Smith started as a freshman on the Spartans team that finished third at the Class 5A state tournament in 2019. During the spring season, she led the team with a .320 hitting percentage. “Ella is a hard worker and always wanting to get better,” Corvallis coach Kari Morrow said. “She has made great improvements so far and has even more untapped potential.” 

MB Gracie Vohs, So., Sisters

Vohs didn’t play like a freshman during the spring season, when she had 85 kills and 20 blocks and showed she’ll be a cornerstone for the Outlaws program for the next three seasons. “Gracie is a powerful hitter with the ability to be a game-changer at the net,” Sisters coach Rory Rush said. “Her big blocks and ability to put the ball down make her a definite threat to any team.”

MB Madison Walker, Jr., Banks

Walker could play any position along the front row, but Banks coach Stephanie Wahne keeps her in the middle because the team relies on her blocking. She had a career-high 24 kills in a match this season. “Madison bounces back stronger and with vengeance whenever she faces an obstacle,” Wahne said. “And she does it with grace and a huge smile on her face.”

MB Ashlyn Watt, Jr., North Clackamas Christian

Watt was named the Valley 10 defensive player of the year and a first-team all-league selection in the spring. She was a defensive specialist as a freshman, and her coverage skills haven’t diminished with her move to a front-row position. “She covers more ground in the back row than any player I have ever coached,” Saints coach Grant Nelson said.  

MB Hannah Wilborn, Jr., Mountainside

Wilborn once spent hours at a swimming pool trying to learn to dive, nearly ending up with a concussion for her trouble. She’s fared much better on the volleyball court, where she has become a dominant blocker who at midseason was leading the Mavericks with 18 blocks to go with 43 kills and 13 aces.  

MB Brooke Womack, Jr., Sandy

Womack shares middle blocking duties with classmate Sydney Brewster. Pioneers coach Alyssa Perreira called her “a very consistent player for us. She takes care of the ball and places it aggressively, whether that be a kill or a tip. She plays great defense and is a consistent serve receive passer.”

MH/OH Kait Wood, Jr., Sheldon

Wood was one of two freshmen on the roster when the Irish qualified for the Class 6A state tournament in 2019, their third consecutive appearance. “Kait explodes our team with energy,” Sheldon coach Martine Wodke said. “She is a great teammate and is always staying positive.” 

MB Tyler McNeley, Jr., Lakeview

McNeley leads the Honkers with 17 blocks to go with 107 kills and 33 aces heading to the Class 2A Southern Cascade League district tournament. “She is a phenomenal athlete,” Lakeview coach Anneke Griffith said. “Her athleticism and work ethic make her a leader both on and off the court.”

One thought on “Oregon’s top high school volleyball players: Meet the state’s best middle blockers

  • October 20, 2021 at 4:08 pm
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    You missed the dominant Joya Euhus from Santiam Christian! Seriously a stellar player!

    Reply

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