Hailee Blau will be the center of Oak Harbor’s attack this fall. (Photo by John Fisken)

Fall prep preview/ Oak Harbor volleyball

The Western Conference is one of the region’s best in volleyball, and Oak Harbor High School coach Kerri Molitor believes her team is up to the challenge.

“I think we will be competitive this year,” Molitor said. “The girls are excited to play and will step up to the challenges. We have a tough league to get through to playoffs, but that’s where we will be.”

At the center of the drive to the playoffs are eight returning letter winners: seniors Hailee Blau, Andrea Ruben, Kristina Tirado and Samantha Hines; juniors Camryn Bristow, Camden Miller and Ceirra Dean; and sophomore Leielle Salinger.

Hitter Blau and setter Ruben will pace the offense.

Blau, a three-year letter winner, was first-team, all-conference last fall and honorable mention as a sophomore.

Ruben, who set a school single-match assist record with 57 last year, was honorable mention.

Key newcomers, according to Molitor, are seniors Kia Ceya and Sherilyne Fernandez and sophomore Jaslin Webster.

The team’s cohesion is its greatest strength, according to Molitor.

“They have been working together through the summer in the weight room and at camps,” Molitor said. “They are a dedicated group and are excited to play.”

Molitor is excited as well: “I can’t wait to get started.”

The Wildcats (7-8, 6-6 last year) will host their annual jamboree at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 2.

The first match and home opener is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, with Ferndale. The Golden Eagles qualified for the past four state tournaments.