COQUILLE — Few South Coast teams have enjoyed success on a state level to rival that of Coquille’s volleyball team over the past four years, with the possible exception of the Red Devils’ girls basketball program.
Coquille's Kaylee Green sets the ball during the Red Devils' playoff match against Vernonia at Coquille High School. Green was named setter of…
After four straight years of advancing to, and placing in, the state volleyball tournament, the Red Devils were in peril of missing out on a fifth trip Saturday, facing match point on a couple of different occasions during their home playoff match against Vernonia.
The Red Devils survived, rallying to win in five sets and advance to this week’s Class 2A tournament at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.
“They were resilient,” Coquille coach Suzanne Grami said.
Coquille opens against defending state champion and No. 2 seed Grant Union on Friday.
After Saturday’s comeback win, Coquille enters the tournament with momentum.
“That was probably the best scenario to get to state,” Grami said. “Now they are awake.”
After the first team’s first five-set match of the season, and first tight win in weeks given how the Red Devils dominated the Sunset Conference, Coquille has confidence.
“When you feel confident, you can win,” Grami said.
Coquille is certainly battle tested as well. The Red Devils’ three losses all have come against teams in state tournaments this week (Cascade Christian and South Umpqua in Class 3A and Central Linn in Class 2A) and they also have wins over tournament teams Creswell (Class 3A), Oakridge and Glide (Class 2A) and North Douglas (Class 1A).
The biggest strength for Coquille, though, is a tight and deep team led by seven seniors — Grace Sinclair, Kaylee Green, Jami Goin, Abbey Dieu, Halle Layton, Brooklynn Duble and Morgan Miller.
‘I feel closer to this team than I’ve ever felt about a team,” said Duble.
“We’ve been together so long,” added Dieu.
All 12 of Coquille’s players contributed in Saturday’s win, and do just about every time out.
Green shares setting duties with sophomore Drew Wilson. Sinclair and Dieu are outside hitters opposite each other while Layton and sophomore Ellie Ekelund are middle blockers opposite each other and Miller is a right-side hitter opposite junior Morgan Baird.
Goin and Duble, meanwhile, key the defense, with Goin sensational at libero.
“When I am in the front row, I would trust Jami with my life,” Dieu said. “Brook is the same way.”
Duble agreed about the skills of Coquille’s libero.
“It’s the nicest thing having Jami next to me,” she said.
Goin had nine digs in the critical fifth set Saturday, keeping a number of smashes by Vernonia start Jordan Walters from hitting the floor.
Coquille’s other two players, junior twins Spencer and Saige Gallino, fill in when needed.
“It’s so nice to have guys on the bench who can step up,” Layton said.
“We have strengths in every spot,” Duble said. “When we put it all together, it’s awesome.”
The Red Devils are loaded with experience.
Dieu, Layton, Goin and Sinclair all are making their fourth trip to the state tournament (Dieu and Layton also have been to, and placed at, state all three years in basketball). Most of the other players on the volleyball team have made multiple trips.
“Having the experience is a lot of help,” Layton said. “You know how to calm your nerves.”
Grami said the experience was one of the biggest keys in Coquille’s win Saturday.
“That’s one of the reasons they were able to win — because they’ve been there,” she said.
It’s also why Coquille was able to set lofty goals before the season — to win the league title with an undefeated record, to win the playoff game and to win the state title.
It all starts at 3:15 p.m. Friday against Grant Union.