The young Hermiston volleyball team has been put through the ringer for most of its season. The Bulldogs were on a 12-game losing skid, and currently sit in last place in the Columbia River Conference standings.
Match after match, Hermiston would put in the effort but it just wouldn’t pay off. That is until Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs won their first league game in a long five-set match. They defeated The Dalles Riverhawks, 3-2, in a match where their hard work came to fruition.
Hermiston took the first set in a nail bitter, 27-25.
“We came out strong,” Dyck said. “We won the first set, and they hung in there. It was our classic style of getting up and coming back down, but when push came to shove they battled through.”
The Bulldogs (3-13 overall, 1-6 CRC) then dropped their next two sets, 11-25, 23-25. But Dyck knew the girls had it in them, as they faced a similar situation a week ago against Pendleton and have been catching up to the Riverhawks (6-10, 2-5) each meeting.
“The last couple of times we played The Dalles we’ve gotten closer and closer to a win,” Dyck said. “It’s put us to where we’re at now, it’s put us in this position. When we trust our training we play really, really well.”
That is exactly what the girls did. The Bulldogs rallied back to win the fourth and fifth set, 25-20 and 15-11, respectively.
“One of our biggest strengths is our girls have a really great dynamic together,” Dyck added. “They genuinely love being around each other, and tonight it showed. Tonight they made plays they wouldn’t normally make because they had that extra motivation.”
The Bulldogs had many contributors en route to their first successful five-set match. Senior Breena Wadekamper ended the match with a team-high four aces and 14 assists while also tallying 14 digs. Sophomore Halee Stubbs was the only Bulldog perfect from the service line, and recorded 15 digs. Junior Scout Reagan notched a team leading seven kills and also had three aces and five digs on the night. Fellow junior Ireland McDonough led the team with 16 digs, and also racked up six kills and two aces.
Up next, Hermiston will have a quick turnaround with a road trip to Hood River Valley on Thursday.
Cougars slip matches with Helix. Nixyaawii
The Echo Cougars had a full night of play in store, as they hosted a double header with Nixyaawii and Helix. The Cougars split their matches against their respective counterparts. After defeating Nixyaawii in straight sets (25-7, 25-17, 25-3), Echo buckled down for a five setter against Helix — which it ultimately lost, 3-2.
Helix (16-7 overall, 7-4 Old Oregon League) had a strong performance with seniors Sadie Wilson and Kailey Mize and junior Arianna Krol leading the way. Wilson ended the night with 14 kills, while Mize added 13 of her own while also being perfect at the service line. Krol also had a good night serving, as she finished 23-of-23.
“We started hot, strong,” Helix head coach Dianna Melton said. “I don’t know what happened in the third set. We really struggled. The fourth started rocky but (we) came back and (in the) fifth (was) able to pull it off. (Got to) hand it to Echo, they hung in there.”
Echo (11-7, 7-4) next plays on Friday at home against Joseph, while Helix will host Powder Valley and Wallowa on Saturday. Nixyawwii (1-10, 1-10) will next play on Thursday at Joseph at 5 p.m.
WESTON-MCEWEN 3, STANFIELD 0 — At Athena, Weston-McEwen swept Stanfield in three straight (25-21, 25-9, 25-9) sets pushing its league record to .500. The TigerScots (15-10 overall, 3-3 CBC) are now just two games back from second place.
At first things were close than they would have liked. The Tigers (2-18, 0-6) put up a fight in the first set, and the TigerScots squeezed by with a four-point win. The next two sets came easy for Weston-McEwen.
“We’ve been working on playing more aggressive and hitting more aggressively,” head coach Shawn White said. “But credit Stanfield for playing super tough, and making us work.”
The upperclassman had a big night. Junior Bryce Thul finished with 10 assists, eight kills, and six aces. Seniors Alyssa Finifrock and Chelsea Queampts each lead the team in one category or another. Finifrock tallied 11 kills and three aces and Queampts ended with 12 digs and went 17-of-17 from the service line. Fellow senior Maddi Muilenburg added seven kills, and sophomore Ellie Scheibner had a team-high 25 assists and two aces.
With only two games left, Weston-McEwen will need to win both but it won’t be easy. Before the TigerScots end their regular season against the Pilot Rock Rockets, they have to face the No. 1 team in the league on their home court. Weston-McEwen will travel to Heppner for a 5 p.m. match Thursday. As for Stanfield, it will also have its hands full with the No. 1 and 2 team to close out its season. The Tigers will welcome the Culver Bulldogs on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
IRRIGON 3, UMATILLA 0 — At Umatilla, the Irrigon Knights continued a string of five-straight road games with a 3-0 sweep of the Umatilla Vikings on Tuesday night.
It was the third time this season that Irrigon has defeated Umatilla in straight sets. The Knights (19-5 overall, 5-2 Eastern Oregon League) came away with the first two sets 25-19 and 25-17, and were to get by the Vikings (8-12, 2-5) with a comfortable lead.
It was the final set that would be the most challenging for Irrigon. Umatilla put up a fight at the end and finally eclipsed 20 points. But the Knights would ultimately take the set 25-22.
Irrigon is just shy of second place, which it will need to advance to for a playoff birth. As its schedule winds down, that feat won’t come easy. The Knights will begin their quest Friday when they travel to Burns. The Hilanders currently hold the No. 2 spot in the league.
The Culver Bulldogs continued their dominance at Pilot Rock. They defeated the Rockets 3-0 (25-19, 25-11, 25-16) to push their league record to 21-2 on the season and 6-1 in league play.
Culver rebounded from it’s only league loss to win its next five matches, including Tuesday’s against the Rockets (13=9, 2-5).
The Bulldogs only have on regular season match left. They will travel to Stanfield on Thursday to try and beat the Tigers from the second time this season. Pilot Rock will end its season next week when it hosts Weston-McEwen at 5 p.m. Tuesday.