2021 Warriors volleyball make history

Courtesy of Becky Gerrard Photography

In the annual city-wide garage sale held in Drain Oregon every August, North Douglas Head Coach Emily Reed joked with another coach that she just held her first practice with her state championship volleyball team. 

The Warriors have been no stranger to recent success after finishing third in the state tournament in 2015, second in 2016, fourth in 2017, and fifth in 2018. 

Coach Reed was heading her third season after taking over the program from Anne Campbell and has had a connection with the girls on this current team dating back to their middle school days where Reed started coaching them. 

“I knew they were a special group,” said Reed. “Some of them have played together since they were in sixth grade and they didn’t lose a game in middle school.” 

The girls continued to win once they got to the high school, and after Reed took over in 2019 North Douglas finished second to their biggest rival Days Creek in league in the ‘19 and ‘20 seasons but would have other plans for the 2021 season. 

The Warriors started their 2021 season showing the big potential of what they could accomplish after they defeated their first three opponents in a dominant fashion.

“I felt like we were playing really good volleyball,” said Reed. “I felt like if we could get back to that point at some point in the season then we definitely had a chance to contend.”

Shortly after their scorching start the Warriors had to put their season on pause due to COVID concerns in their program. 

“It took us awhile to get back to 100 percent physically,” said Reed. “We we’re playing really, really well before the COVID pause.” 

North Douglas’ first game off the pause was against their aforementioned rival Days Creek. 

“It was a big win after a ten-day COVID pause,” said Reed. “We had one day of practice and then the game came up.”

Despite missing some time, the Warriors would leave their first big impression on the season after defeating Days Creek 3-0. 

North Douglas started to hit their stride in league play after they dropped their first game to 2A Monroe the Warriors would win 11 games in a row only losing two total sets during that incredible run. 

They were able to finish the regular season with their first league title since 2016. And just like that 2016 team, this year’s team finished with a perfect league record going 14-0. 

In the regular season North Douglas only lost three games, two of them would be schools that weren’t in their 1A classification and their only 1A loss being to North Clackamas Christian on the road who was ranked number one at the time.

Following the loss to North Clackamas Christian, North Douglas aimed their focus to their league tournament where again they would flex their muscle on their league opponents. They would beat Days Creek and Umpqua Valley Christian in commanding fashion to win their league tournament and check another box in their historical season. 

“That was some of the best volleyball we played all season,” said Reed. “We had been talking all week about controlling our destiny and making our path to the state tournament easier. And so, the girls just came out ready to play and they played very well.” 

Despite winning their conference and conference tournament along with two losses coming to bigger schools. North Douglas was ranked fifth heading into the state playoffs and having handled Perrydale in three sets, the second round the Warriors would make a very long road trip to Joseph in the quarterfinals. 

The Warriors kept their winning ways going as they got past Joseph and Crane in four sets to advance to their first state title game since 2016. 

Leading up to the championship game Reed was talking to one of her assistant coaches who said St. Paul was a good team but felt confident that they could beat them. Reed agreed and said, “We’re a team that’s peaking at the right moment.” 

St. Paul was looking to make their own history as they were looking to three-peat after winning state titles in 2018 and 2019 (no state playoffs in 2020). 

The championship game would almost be a reflection of the North Douglas season compacted into three hours. The Warriors would start really well earning the first set victory, then encountered a small slump in the second set with St. Paul winning it, but would finish the evening nearly untouchable in the last two sets to secure the programs first state title.

“Everything started coming together,” said Reed. “Especially on the defensive end with Brooke McHaffie’s block, and then my outsides Cydni Dill and Brooklyn Williams, and Asia Ward getting aggressive on the right side.” 

The day after the game coach Reed was able to reflect on a bittersweet moment realizing for seniors Halli Vaughn, Cydni Dill, Samantha MacDowell, and Sofie Dooley it was the last time they would ever be a part of the program. 

“The things I’m going to miss don’t even involve volleyball,” said Reed “They’re a pretty fantastic group of human beings and I’m going to miss them.” 

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