The 2018 4A Greater St. Helens League most valuable player is back to lead the Camas High School (CHS) volleyball team’s quest to return to the 4A state tournament.
“Emma (Villaluz) really is a sparkplug for us because I can put her anywhere,” Papermakers coach Michelle Ford said. “She’s my captain both on and off the court and leads everything.”
CHS has even more talent surrounding her this season, according to Ford.
“I think we are stronger,” Ford said after the Papermakers lost to 2A powerhouse Columbia River High School on Sept. 10. “We have bigger blockers, so at the net we are going to do really well, but the biggest thing right now is getting our chemistry right.”
Against the Chieftains, CHS played well in the opening set, but dropped the next three sets.
“It’s disappointing, but I don’t see this loss as such a bad thing because it will help us focus,” said Villaluz, who combined with her all-league teammates Grace Varsek and Mackenzie Hancock for 33 kills and 55 digs.
The Papermakers lost just three players from last season’s team and have seven varsity players returning. Among the new faces is 6-foot-3 freshman Alliyah Barns, who had eight blocks in her varsity debut.
Finding the chemistry
Volleyball is a game of momentum shifts and sudden runs, and players need to learn a strong mental approach to find that elusive momentum during matches, according to Ford.
“We like to talk about the dance, that everyone has their own part to make that dance happen and we all have to stick to our parts,” she said.
Villaluz says she enjoys the challenge of helping her coach and teammates find that chemistry.
“I’m so excited about this team and what we can accomplish together this season,” Villaluz said.
CHS’ chemistry started to flow during a decisive three-set victory over Prairie High School on Sept. 12.
The Papermakers will play their first tournament of the season in Canby, Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 14 and return home to take on Hood River High School on Tuesday, Sept. 17.