PENDLETON — From 2012-15, the Blue Mountain Community College volleyball team ruled the NWAC.
The Timberwolves won the NWAC East title and the NWAC title all four years. The past couple of years have been a little lean for the Wolves, but first-year coach Ceanna Larson is hoping to change that for the program.
“It’s fun to be part of that history,” Larson said the four-year run.
This season, the Wolves are young, and Larson had a late start hitting the recruiting trail after being hired in April.
“I had to do a bit of late recruiting,” she said. “It’s kind of a building year. We don’t have height, but we make up for it with talent. It’s all about speed.”
BMCC got its feet wet last weekend at the NWAC Friendlies in Springfield, going 2-4 against non-East opponents.
“It was a great way for us to try a couple of different rotations and to see what we need to work on before the season starts,” Larson said. “We have six sophomores and seven freshmen. We have a pretty good mix, and everyone is close, which is nice.”
Sophomore Keeley Morrison (Medical Lake, Washington) is the tallest player for BMCC at 5 feet, 11 inches. As a middle, she had 83 kills and 20 blocks last season. She also missed a few matches with injuries, but assures she is 100% to the start the season.
Though she grew up not far from Spokane, Morrison has family roots at BMCC.
Her dad, Boo, played baseball for the Wolves, and her cousins Karlie and Riley Gerlinger played basketball.
The Wolves also bring back 5 foot, 6 inch sophomore outside hitter Mariah Moulton, who led Grant Union to a state title in 2017. She walked on last year, and later earned a scholarship.
Moulton led the Wolves in kills last season with 189, and was second in digs with 182.
College ball is a far cry from high school, according Moulton, who was the Wapiti League Player of the Year and the 2A state Player of the Year her senior year at Grant Union.
“It takes time to adjust,” she said. “There are a lot of taller girls, you have to work on being quick. Ball placement is key. In high school, I was short, but I could jump. A lot of (the taller girls) can’t jump.”
Morrison and Moulton are the team captains this season.
Moulton had 44 kills, 48 digs and five aces at the Friendlies, while Morrison had 32 kills and six blocks.
Also returning is sophomore outside hitter Emily Beebe (Oregon City), who had 50 kills and seven blocks last season
“She plays a big part on our outside,” Larson said.
Leading the offense on the floor is sophomore setter Abby Ives (Eagle, Idaho), a transfer from Grays Harbor, which does not have a program this season because it lost its coach.
“She is a good communicator on the floor,” Larson said.
“We connect really well,” Moulton added.
Also transferring in is Lesley Santoyo from Hermiston, who attended Gonzaga last year. Santoyo, a setter, did not play volleyball for the Zags.
“She really missed playing and she called me,” Larson said. “We have a lot of really good talent that is local, which is good for the fans and the players’ parents.”
Other local players include freshmen Hailey Weaver of Weston-McEwen and Masie Hancock of Riverside.
The Wolves open the NWAC East regular season Sept. 19, hosting Spokane.