Last year, reporting EPHS volleyball could hardly be done without highlighting the talents of Christine McCready, Carolina Regalado, or Whitney Barber. These are only three in a total of eight strong senior athletes, who have graduated, and are gone from the varsity team.
When asked who will replace such influential players, head coach Beth Bilden immediately produced the name Taylor Bidwell— the new 5’11’’ outside hitter for the Eagles. “She will be our biggest powerhouse this year,” Bilden said.
Along with the four seniors, and three varsity returners, coach Bilden also pointed out Camryn Shumate, Kelly Brawner and Brianna Shopp, whose solid passing ability makes them a combination to be envied. “Those three really dominate our back row,” Bilden said.
The new crop got their first taste of live competition at the Hidden Valley Varsity Jamboree on Thursday, Aug. 30th, where the Eagles played four individual sets against four different teams from varying leagues. Coach Bilden informed that these sets did not count for the Eagles’ season record, or their RPI rankings, but were an opportunity to test the rotation and see how the team functions as a whole.
Above any single player, coach Bilden emphasized her pride in the team’s solidarity and leadership qualities, which are central to their anticipated success this year.
“This team has become a full-on, cohesive unit,” Bilden said. “It gives me goosebumps.”
The Eagles go on the road for their season opener against Roseburg High School on Thursday, Sept. 6th. But, for their first home game, they will play rival Ashland High School on Tuesday, Sept. 11th. Despite finishing higher than Ashland in the hybrid league rankings, the Eagles went 1 – 2 against the Grizzlies last year. And, rumor has it they are hungry to even the score. It is sure to be an exciting game!