Evergreen is a first timer in the Cascade Conference Post-Season Tournament
November 14, 2003
by James J. Portune
Olympia, WA - Today is a special day for The Evergreen State College Women's Volleyball program. A unique day. Today the volleyball team plays in the 2003 Cascade Conference Post-Season tournament. This is the first time in the three year history of the team has played beyond the regular season.
This year's tournament is being hosted by Southern Oregon University in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and will feature Southern Oregon (15-3), Albertson College of Idaho (13-5), Western Baptist College (12-6), Concordia University (12-6), Oregon Institute of Technology (11-7) and Evergreen (10-8).
As the #1 and #2 seed in the tournament, Southern Oregon and Albertson receive a first round bye, which begins today with #3 Concordia and #6 Evergreen playing Game 1 at 11:00 a.m. Game 2 will following with #4 Western Baptist playing #5 Oregon Tech. The winner of Game 1 will advance to play #2 Albertson at 4:00 p.m. and the winner of Game 2 will square off against #1 Southern Oregon at 7:00 p.m.
Although Evergreen is a first timer in the post-season tournament and qualified as the sixth and final team, they are not the underdog in this weekend's tournament. Their 10-8 conference record, the best in school history, speaks of their ability to beat any team in the tournament and none of the other five teams are taking them lightly.
The weekend of October 3rd the Geoducks sent a message to conference by defeating both Oregon Tech (3-1) and Southern Oregon (3-2) in The Greenhouse on the campus of The Evergreen State College. The back-to-back wins propelled them into a second place tie in the conference standings, the programs highest placement. In order to qualify for the tournament, Evergreen needed a win in their final home game on Nov. 1. Playing to their potential, they defeated visiting Albertson College in four games (32-30, 29-31, 30-28, 30-28).
The key to Evergreen's success this season is a core of four athletes that have been together for three seasons. Senior outside hitter Stephanie Short (Spokane, WA / Shadle Park HS) and junior setter Hanna Plunk (Bloomfield, CO / Bloomfield HS) were members of head coach Bill Lash's inaugural 2000 team. Short holds virtually all the school's hitting records and Plunk does hold all the school setting records. Middle blockers Kristen Bartley (Lubbock, TX / Monterey HS) and Meredith Lane (Olympia, WA / Olympia HS) joined the team last season and had an immediate impact.
Bartley is this years leading scorer, with 306 kills. November 4th she was named Cascade Conference and NAIA Region I Player of the Weeks for her performance against Eastern Oregon and Albertson.
Lane leads the team in blocks (28 solo, 36 assisted) and follows Bartley with 253 kills. Her .293 hitting percentage lead the Geoducks and places her 5th amongst the conference leaders. October 4, against Southern Oregon, she set two school records, recording 29 kills on 58 attempts and was named Cascade Conference, NAIA Region I and National Player of the Week.
Prior to the start of the 2003 season, no Evergreen player had ever received Cascade Conference or NAIA recognition.
The uncertainty for the Geoducks this weekend's tournament lies in two areas, today opponent, Concordia, and the arena, Southern Oregon.
During the regular season they lost both matches to Concordia. In the season opener (Sep. 2), the Cavalier beat Evergreen 3-0 (30-23, 30-23, 30-23) in Portland, Ore. At Evergreen (Oct. 11), Concordia won in four games (30-26, 30-18, 30-19, 30-15).
The road has also not been very friendly to Evergreen this season. At home they won 8 out of 10 conference matches. On the road were victorious only twice in eight games, against Eastern Oregon and Cascade, none tournament teams.
But do not let those two statistics get to you. If you have watched this year's Evergreen Women's Volleyball team play then you know they are capable of anything. If they can put Concordia behind them today, they become a serious contender to win the tournament, having defeated Southern Oregon and Albertson during the regular season.
You can follow today's action by logging on to the Southern Oregon Athletic web site at www.sou.edu/athletics