HRV volleyball set to enter exciting new era

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Junior hustler Ashley Delepine is one of seven returning varsity players for the HRV volleyball team.

The Hood River Valley volleyball program has wanted Jen Baklenko as its coach ever since she moved to Hood River in 2000.

But, until now, the time hasn’t been right for the former professional player and Division I college standout.

“I guess I was on overload after playing professionally for eight years,” said the first-year head coach, who inherits a program that failed to win a single match — let alone a game — in 2002.

“Before that, I played two years at SDSU (San Diego State University) and two more at USD (University of San Diego). So when I moved here, I wanted to slow my life down a bit and just take a break from it all.”

But that was then. If you ask her today what her outlook is, Baklenko will tell you she has a renewed excitement for volleyball.

And, the only difficult part about it is, there aren’t enough practice hours in a given week for her to teach her team everything she wants them to learn.

“I want the girls to think about what they are going to do with every ball,” Baklenko says. “They are going to have to work hard every minute they are with me, and there is still a lot they need to learn before we can reach our true potential.”

While Baklenko does have seven returning varsity players, only one — junior Meghan Flink — has a “volleyball base.” Meaning, only Flink has played at a club level, which taught her all the fundamentals that many of the other girls are still learning.

“Ashley (Delepine) is another player who has good form and a good understanding of the game,” Baklenko said. “She really works hard, which is what we need out on the court. And the other girls are learning that.”

Delepine (junior) and Flink are joined by fellow varsity returnees Danielle Bohn (senior), Marisa Rojas (senior), Sara Sherrell (junior), Katie Pritchett (junior) and Napua Wampler (junior).

Rounding out the roster will be junior Kara Graves, junior Emily Bounds and senior Jessica Young. Baklenko said that freshman Brianne Rowley and sophomore Jamie Abbott — a transfer student from Memphis, Tenn. — will also see some time as JV swing players.

“We’re already working better together than last year,” said Graves, who played JV ball last year with Rowley and Bounds. “We’re definitely going to improve over last year, and actually, I’d say we’ve already improved.”

Baklenko agrees, and says that while she is putting no major expectations on her team in the brutal Intermountain Conference, she expects people will see a much different team than in 2002.

“Going hard every minute of every practice will hopefully translate into a new attitude in the games,” she said. “Movement and communication are also key, and I feel like the girls are picking up on that.”

HRV will test its progress today at the Hood River Invitational, and then gear up for its first IMC matches next Friday versus Summit and Mountain View.

“We’re improving day by day as a team,” Baklenko said, “and we’re going to take it one game at a time. And once we build that base, we can start working on the winning attitude.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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