PHS volleyball: Kaela Lindsey

Philomath High's Kaela Lindsey signs paperwork Wednesday to play volleyball at Eastern Oregon University. Lindsey (volleyball) and Carrie Lillis (girls soccer) were named to all-state first teams while Lindsey Luke (volleyball) and Kenan Conner (football) were honorable mention picks.

BRAD FUQUA, PHILOMATH EXPRESS

Philomath High School senior Kaela Lindsey had a pretty good day Dec. 7.

On that particular Thursday, the Warriors' volleyball standout learned that she had been named to the Class 4A all-state first team. And she also received an offer from Eastern Oregon University to bring her skills to the volleyball program.

"I went on a visit with my mom and when I got there, it felt like home. Like everything, all the people and everything," Lindsey said following a signing party Wednesday at the high school. "It just felt like I could be there and it wouldn't feel that much different than being at home."

Lindsey said she didn't want to leave the state. Among the other schools that she considered were the University of Portland, Pacific and George Fox.

The 5-foot-10 Lindsey was a force primarily at the net with her powerful hitting but also in other facets of the game, including mental. When things weren't going very well, Lindsey dug down deep within herself and also motivated teammates.

"I've known Kaela just short of a year now, but what makes her especially fierce is her ability to just push through and she uses frustration and fury to kinda drive herself in a good way," PHS coach Denee Newton said. "You could trust that even when she's falling into a slump, it's going to be short-lived."

Lindsey, daughter of Brandon and Amanda Lindsey, said she is receiving an academic scholarship from EOU and is also applying for a partial athletic award. She plans to major in early childhood education and would like to be a teacher.

Lindsey has been playing competitive volleyball since the seventh grade. During the summer before the eighth grade, she joined the DSK Volleyball Club.

"Without DSK, I wouldn't be the volleyball player I am today," Lindsey said. "I've spent countless hours in that gym, like on weekends and during the week. That's where I learned to play volleyball."

Eastern Oregon finished its season with a 24-11 record and advanced to the NAIA national championships in Sioux City, Iowa. Lindsey, who will become the first in her family to play collegiate athletics, expects to play outside hitter and on defense.

All-state teams

Lindsey was one of two players from Philomath to make the all-state team. Lindsey Luke, junior libero, was recognized as an honorable mention selection. Lindsey was one of four players considered for the 4A player of the year award.

Philomath went 19-4 this season and won the Oregon West Conference with a 10-0 record. The season ended on a down note with an upset loss in the first round of the state playoffs.

Newton said the all-state recognition was good for the program.

"I think this was really satisfying, not just for Kaela and Lindsey, but for the team," Newton said. "They still have that 'we really could have gone all the way' but it reminded them that the recognition proves our capabilities as a team and how strong we were, how talented we were."

The all-state selections are determined by a vote of coaches from around the state.

Two other PHS athletes were recognized with all-state selections. Warriors senior Carrie Lillis made the girls soccer first team.

Lillis led the Warriors to a 10-6-2 record this fall, including an impressive playoff run that saw Philomath reach the semifinals. Lillis scored all three goals in the playoffs for the Warriors, which included a 2-1 win over Gladstone in the first round and a 1-0 victory over Scappoose in the quarterfinals.

In football, senior Kenan Conner was named to 4A's honorable mention list as a defensive back. The multi-talented Conner, who also plays quarterback along with boys basketball over the winter and baseball in the spring, was a bright spot this past season for the Warriors.

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