The Rapids lost just one match, dropping the district championship to league rival Ridgefield in five sets.
But Columbia River rebounded, rolling through the Class 2A state tournament before avenging the loss to Ridgefield with a 3-0 sweep in the championship match.
Just as dominant was Dreves, who averaged 23.8 kills per match in a state tournament where River dropped just one set.
For her accomplishments, Dreves is The Columbian’s All-Region volleyball player of the year.
Dreves already had plenty going for her entering this season. After winning a doubles tennis state title in the spring, she verbally committed in July to play volleyball at Auburn.
Dreves knew her teammates would look to her in a way they hadn’t in previous years. For advice, she talked to Reeves and Hansen.
“They were like ‘you have to embrace this team,’ ” Dreves said. “If you want this team to do well, you have to embrace the new players and the new systems we’re going to run.”
Still, being the undisputed team leader stretched Dreves’ comfort zone at first.
“At first I didn’t think I was ready for it,” she said. “I was like ‘holy crap, that’s a lot of pressure.’ But then I realized that I have to do it for this team.”
Dreves wasn’t alone. Several players slid into new or more prominent roles.
Chief among them was Sophie Worden, who replaced Hansen as setter and served up the ball for Dreves to kill.
Dreves’ younger sister Sydney also took on a greater role and was second in the team in kills. Sasha Pelkey, Logan DeJong, Taegen Benke and Macey McCoy elevated their stature.
But none played a bigger role than Dreves in establishing a championship mentality.
“She’s the most competitive, intense, fierce player I’ve ever coached,” Rapids coach Breanne Smedley said after the state title match. “She just gets into this zone. She rises to these pressure moments like no other player I’ve seen.”
Dreves said she gets that competitive drive from her parents, who both were Division-I collegiate athletes. She also said growing up playing singles tennis, where she alone was responsible for raising her energy, helped teach her how to dial up her intensity.
“They’ve always taught me that if I want to be the best, I have to fuel the fire,” Dreves said. “I can’t just sit back and watch. There are amazing players who can do that. But just the way I was growing up, I always have to compete if I want to win.”
Dreves committed to Auburn shortly after visiting the campus. She’ll join a program on the rise, having reached this year’s NCAA tournament for just the second time in program history under third-year coach Brent Crouch.
“When I walked in the gym I felt so welcomed,” Dreves said. “Watching them play, I could see they’ll give everything they have to win. They play for each other and that is what I was looking for.”
But first, Dreves will try to lead the Rapids to a third consecutive state title. She said having a double target on their backs won’t faze the Rapids.
“We want to keep that trophy in our case,” Dreves said.
The rest of the All-Region team
Lizzy Andrew, Ridgefield
The 6-foot-5 junior was a force at the net, both as a blocker and the team’s leader in kills as the Spudders reached their fourth consecutive state title match.
Ella Conklin, Prairie
The 5-foot-10 junior led her team in kills and blocks as the Falcons reached the 3A state tournament for the first time since 2018.
Ella Schoene, La Center
The 6-foot-2 senior was Trico MVP, leading the league in kills. She helped the Wildcats place eighth for their first state trophy since 1995.
Paige Stepaniuk, Ridgefield
One of the region’s most versatile players, the Portland State commit frequently led her team in digs while also being a reliable attacking option.
Sophie Worden, Columbia River
The senior setter helped guide the Rapids to the 2A state title with her steady play and demeanor, supplying River’s hitters with consistent service.
Natalie Andrew, Ridgefield
The senior was an standout leader for the Spudders and one of the team’s top hitters. She has signed with Navy.
Sydney Dreves, Columbia River
The sophomore elevated her role to become River’s second-leading hitter and a key defensive player.
Annie Hite, Skyview
The senior setter was the 4A GSHL co-MVP, leading the Storm to the bi-district tournament.
Kendall Mairs, Camas
The 5-foot-11 sophomore was among the leaders in kills for the 4A GSHL champion and state tournament qualifier.
Madi Noel, Mark Morris
The senior libero was named 2A GSHL defensive player of the year and helped the Monarchs place seventh in the 2A state tournament.
Halle Reiter, Camas
The agile junior libero was the heart of the Camas defense, earning 4A GSHL co-MVP honors and helping her team reach state.