NASELLE - The Naselle Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball teams completed their 2003 season under the direction of coaches Diane Bennett and Jenny Blake respectively.

The seventh grade team included Jackie Anderson, Risa Fletcher, Jerrica Juarez, Shelby Leeland and Crystal Neprud and sixth graders Samantha Bauer, Jodie Christie, Emily Green, Nicole Laney, Karli Nelson and Lindsay O'Kelley.

The sixth graders were added to the team because there were not enough seventh graders. Coach Bennett expects the use of the younger players to have long term benefits for the volleyball program.

"Although the girls only won one game, against South Bend, they constantly improved in their knowledge and skill of the game," Bennett said. "They worked hard at every practice and gave each game their best.

"We were the only team bringing sixth graders up. Every school but one brought eighth graders down to create a 7/8 team versus our 6/7 team. Looking to the future, our sixth grade girls received valuable experience which should give them an edge in later years. By the end of the season, every player was able to get their serves over the net and direct their passes."

Bennett credited all of the players with making great stride in developing individual skills as well as team skills.

She concluded by saying, "The goal of this age [group] is for each player to get a lot of playing time and learn and develop basic skills. These girls were hard working and a joy to work with. It was a privilege to get to know each player and see the improvement over the season."

The eighth-grade team players were Ashley Ahlstrom, Elsa Butchart, Narcissa Carlson, Heather Clark, Jamie Gilbert, Sylvia Herrold, Haley Landis, Mayra Perez, Chanel Ruch and Stephanie Wise.

The eighth-grade team fashioned an 8-2 season record, with seven of their wins coming by 3-0 match scores. One of their losses was also by a 0-3 score and their other two matches were determined by 2-1 and 1-2 scores. Their 0-3 loss came early in the season to Ocosta, a loss which they turned around later in the season with a 2-1 win at Ocosta. Their only other loss came in the Willapa Valley gym by a 1-2 score, after the Naselle team had beaten Valley 3-0 earlier at home.

Each week, coach Blake would pick a player of the week. She said, "The game stats did not always reflect who I picked," indicating that the player of the week had contributed in several ways to the team.

The players of the week for the five week season were Stephanie Wise, Mayra Perez, Sylvia Herrold, Chanel Ruch and Blake says, "I named the whole team [for the week of Oct. 13-17] as their teamwork in both games was great."

Statistically, some of the top players for each match, included: Match No. 1. 3-0 win over North Beach: Ahlstrom and Herrold; No. 2. 0-3 loss to Ocosta: Herrold; No. 3. 3-0 win over South Bend: Herrold and Clark; No. 4. 3-0 win over Willapa Valley: Ahlstrom and Wise; No. 5. 3-0 win over Raymond: Gilbert, Herrold and Ahlstrom.

No. 6. 3-0 win over North Beach: Wise and Carlson; No. 7. 2-1 win over Ocosta: Herrold and Ruch; No. 8. 3-0 win over South Bend: Herrold and Butchart; No. 9. 1-2 loss to Willapa Valley: Herrold and Perez; and No. 10. 3-0 win over Raymond: Herrold and Landis.

"It was very enjoyable coaching this talented group of athletes. They demonstrated good teamwork in all their matches because each individual did her best and worked hard. Sylvia Herrold showed some outstanding play. Mayra Perez had almost a perfect serve record, only missing four serves for the 30 individual games. We are looking forward to seeing some remarkable things from this group during their high school careers," Blake concluded.

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