STANFIELD — You’ll have to excuse Stanfield for being excited about its volleyball team.
The Tigers have hovered near or at the bottom of the Blue Mountain Conference standings for years. They haven’t had a winning season in recent memory, and according to OSAA archives, Stanfield has made just three state tournament appearances — 1990, 1988 and 1978 — and lost in the first round each time.
This season, Stanfield finds itself with a 4-2 BMC record after the first half of the season, and the Tigers are 14-5 overall.
“It has been an exciting year,” Stanfield coach Blaine Ganvoa said. “The girls are goal oriented, they have a willingness to be coached and get better. They are focused on putting things together the right way.”
The Tigers open the second half of conference play Thursday, hosting league-leading Union (14-2, 6-0).
“They have been humble about it,” Ganvoa said of his team’s success. “Historically, we’ve not done well. It’s alway nice when you can help them get to the winning side. They have earned it. They are building trust and playing for each other.”
The Tigers, who won just eight league matches over the past five years prior to this season, are playing with confidence. Two weeks ago, they took Grant Union to five sets, and swept Weston-McEwen. Last week, they beat Heppner 3-2 on the road.
“At the end of the day, we ask ourselves, ‘Are you having fun, and did you do your best?’” Ganvoa said. “It’s nice to stop and smell the roses.”
Stanfield has changed up its serve receive to play to the strength of its players, and freshman Zuri Reeser has added skill and youthful enthusiasm to the team.
“She brings that energy level that everyone wants to have,” Ganvoa said. “That spark-plug attitude is nice to have.”
It will come in handy as the second half of the season rolls around.
Union has won 16 matches in a row, swept the Tigers the first time around, and has lost just nine sets this season.
“The girls put too much pressure on themselves the first time,” Ganvoa said. “Being able to bounce back and be resilient is something we have worked on since then. Everyone has seen us, and we have a bull’s-eye on our back. That is not a position they have been in before.”
Other BMC matches Thursday are Heppner (3-3) at Grant Union (4-3), and Weston-McEwen (3-3) at Pilot Rock (0-6).