If the Prairie volleyball team made a kill, Zoe McBride’s hammer of a hand probably hit it.
If Prairie made a dig, it was probably McBride who sprawled on the court to keep the ball in play.
And if you’re looking for the main reason Prairie repeated as 3A Greater St. Helens League champion and placed fifth in state, it was definitely McBride.
Expectations were high for McBride’s senior season. As a junior, she was the Columbian All-Region player of the year, GSHL MVP and helped Prairie place seventh at state, it’s first trophy since 2012.
McBride more than rose to the occasion. For the second time, she is The Columbian’s All-Region player of the year.
McBride had a team-high 565 kills, 57 more than last year. She had 63 blocks, 23 more than last year. Add in 314 digs and 95 aces, and it’s clear there was no facet of the game she didn’t affect.
But according first-year coach Jen Palmer, McBride’s biggest impact wasn’t measured in stats.
“What stood out to me was her composure in all aspects,” Palmer said. “When she struggled, which wasn’t very often, she kept complete composure. … If she made a mistake, she would say ‘set me again.'”
When Prairie had a setback in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, McBride spread that “set me again” attitude to her teammates.
“I asked ‘what’s the best we can do?’ McBride said. “Jen said we could take fifth. I said OK, we’re taking fifth. There were no doubts about it.”
McBride had a combined 27 kills and 29 digs in two straight-set victories on the final day of the state tournament. Fifth place was secured.
“Obviously, everyone wants to take first,” McBride said. “But doing better than last year was a big accomplishment. I really couldn’t wish for anything more.”
At 6-foot-1, McBride has the physical stature to be a dominant hitter in high school.
But with college in mind, she knows the value of versatility. She has worked on all aspects of her game including passing, a former weakness.
“I want to be able to say ‘I can be a (defensive specialist) and I know how to pass,'” she said. “It’s so important to be able to do anything and fit anywhere.”
McBride said she has received interest from Division-I programs, but is also considering Division-II schools. She wants to experience living in a different part of the country. Studies that could lead to a career in the medical field interest her.
“If that’s a D-II school, that’s fine,” she said. “I’ll love it.”
When Palmer took over as Prairie volleyball coach before this season, she knew she had a great player in McBride.
Expectations were high. McBride rose higher.
“She in every way exceeded every expectation that I had,” Palmer said.
The rest of the All-Region team
Laynie Erickson, La Center
1A Trico co-MVP had 378 kills, 420 digs and 55 aces. Senior played every point this year.
Bella Forncrook, Heritage
The senior sets school records with 351 digs and 47 aces this season. 4A GSHL co-MVP.
Keelie LeBlanc, Camas
The top hitter in the 4A GSHL. First-team all league past two years.
Delaney Nicoll, Ridgefield
Sophomore is both setter and right-side hitter. Team-high 45 kills at state tournament.
Aubrey Stanton, Camas
Senior setter was 4A GSHL co-MVP. Among league leaders in assists.
Elysa Booker, Woodland
The junior libero was the 2A GSHL player of the year.
Kirah Boynton-Brown, Union
Six-foot-2 middle blocker was also among team leaders in kills with 7.3 per match.
Abby Brotherton, Prairie
Senior middle blocker was co-captain and vocal leader of 3A GSHL champ Falcons.
Vanessa Franke, Woodland
Senior outside hitter led 2A GSHL champ Beavers in kills.
Payten Kaysner, Skyview
Senior libero/defensive specialist among league leaders in digs. Had 32 in match vs. Ridgefield.
Anika Nicoll, Ridgefield
Senior middle blocker and outside hitter was among team leaders in kills, blocks and aces.