Two key members of the highly lauded 2019 Canby Cougar volleyball squad have announced their decisions to continue their athletic careers at Division I colleges: outside hitter Daley McClellan and libero Caitlin Gay, both seniors from the Class of 2021.
McClellan, the 2019 Three Rivers League Player of the Year and an OSAA First-Team All-State selection, actually committed to the University of Oregon in August 2019, but did not sign her letter of intent until this week, in a virtual ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A lifelong Ducks fan, she got the call from her dream school out of the blue, after narrowing her list to three D-I programs in California: Sacramento State, California Baptist and Loyola Marymount.
“First and foremost, Daley is a special person and will make an incredible teammate,” said Canby head volleyball coach Terri Jo Schlatter. “She is a hard worker and a positive presence in the gym. They will love her!”
McClellan is a “complete player,” Schlatter said, able to excel in all phases of the game.
“She is a great ball-handler, which is something that is extremely valuable,” Schlatter said of McClellan. “She also has an incredible arm swing and is able to hit a variety of shots, and will adapt easily to their faster-paced offense.”
McClellan will be joining the Ducks’ beach team, Schlatter noted. Her teammate, Gay, will sign with the University of Idaho, it was revealed this week.
Gay earned first-team all-league honors her first year with the Cougs. As a sophomore, she was the second-ranked libero behind one of the state’s top recruits, Ellie Snook, who’s “killing it at Portland State,” Schlatter said.
Last year, Gay’s role on the team changed, as Schlatter asked her to focus on hitting, defense and ball-handling, while McClellan carried the load on offense.
“She did a great job of that, but didn’t win a lot of accolades,” Schlatter said of Gay. “In short, she took a hit for the team, which is part of why we had such a successful season. We couldn’t have done what we did without her.”
Gay will help the Vandals’ front-line defense and serve receive, Schlatter said. She plans to formally sign her letter of intent Tuesday at the Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy in Beaverton.
“They are lucky to get her,” Schlatter said.
Like everything in 2020, college recruiting has been upended by Covid-19 — most obviously by the fact that very few athletic competitions have been able to be staged since the pandemic hit Oregon in February.
Most recruiting has been done by video. Fortunately, both of these athletes were well into their recruiting process by then.
“I think they are relieved to know where they are going and excited to move forward on their journeys,” Schlatter said. “A lot of hard work has gone into their success. Though their paths have been a little different, both of these girls have absolutely earned the success they are now enjoying.”
McClellan and Gay were undoubtedly two of the most important pieces for the Cougs during their surprising 2019 run, in which they entered the state tournament as the No. 11 seed, only to stage upset after upset en route to a third-place finish.
It was the best result in the program’s history and the highest finish for any non-private school volleyball team in the state last year.
Two other foundational pieces, 2020 seniors Ruby Kayser and Arika Evans, signed in the spring with Colorado State University and Linn-Benton Community College, respectively.
Without Kayser and Evans, Schlatter said she does not expect a repeat of last year’s Cinderella run once the volleyball season is able to resume (per OSAA’s rules, fall sports like volleyball were pushed back to March and April of 2021).
“That was special,” she admitted. ” What we will have is a bunch of very hard-working kids working who will play hard, scrappy volleyball and hopefully overachieve enough to give teams fits. Then, you never know what will happen. Playing as a team will be even more important — those are my favorite kind of teams.”