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When it comes to Class 1A volleyball, Melrose is one of the teams to beat again this year.  “I think we’re going to be tough again,” said head coach Casey Jackson.  “We have 4-5 returners with significant playing time from last season and the young ones have jumped in a done a good job.”

The Buffaloes return a good core from last year’s championship squad. “We have Isabelle Sena, she was our libero from last year and one of the outside hitters this year,” said Jackson.  “Graci Odom is the other outside returning.  She was a freshman last year, sophomore this season and she’s come a long way.  Jayda Brittenum is a middle blocker. She’s trying to establish herself as a dominant in the middle. Johanna Roybal was an all-state setter last year, and she returns. April Arenivar, a setter, is also coming back.”

Jackson admits last season was unique, but it did leave a lasting impression on the returners. “I remember the build up for it, it just took so long for us to finally get to play in March,” said Jackson.  “When we finally got to play, I remember how happy the kids were.  The first time we got to step on the floor that season, we never looked back after that and rolled through.”

“They understand now not to take anything for granted and utilize your time in the gym because you never know,” Jackson said.  “We have been making the most of our time in the gym and doing what we need to do outside the gym to keep playing.”

For this season, the theme is commit.  “This summer we talked a lot about being committed, to the program, to the process, and to each other,” said the head coach in his 8th year in charge.  “That’s what they say before every game and every practice, they come together and say ‘Commit on 3!…1-2-3…Commit!’  If we’re going to be here, let’s be committed.  Commitment is the biggest thing we are preaching.”

Melrose has become a fixture in the final.  They have played in a championship match each of the last seven years and the expectation is to get there again. “It’s always an unspoken thing among the kids here,” said Jackson. “That’s what they expect of themselves.  We talk about the road getting there.  The kids expect to be there and be competitive again.  Right now, it’s a game at a time and control what we can control. They want to get back there, but we don’t talk about it.”

So, you don’t mention the word, championship or state or blue trophy? “Not yet, not until it gets a little closer,” said Jackson.

Melrose has plans to host a tournament over Halloween weekend, which could be a trick or treat heading into the postseason.

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