Bulldog netters down Eagle Indians

<p>Hermiston’s Noa Ena spikes the ball against The Dalles Thursday. Ena had 17 kills in the match as the Bulldogs won 3-1</p>

The Hermiston Bulldog volleyball team extended its winning streak to three straight matches by beating the The Dalles Eagle Indians 3-1 Thursday at Hermiston. The Bulldogs won in four sets, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-7.

Head coach Becky Wadekamper thought junior outside hitter Noa Ena, who led the Bulldogs’ offense with 17 kills, set the pace for her team in the match.

“Noa’s quick to the ball,” Wadekamper said. “She makes a lot happen out there. She’s a great outside hitter.”

Hermiston put the pressure on The Dalles with its dominant serving throughout the match. Bethanie Nelson went 30-for-30 from the serving line including three aces.

“Bethanie was serving well from the line for us,” Wadekamper said. “We served much better as a team tonight than we did the last time we played The Dalles. We served quite well against Hood River on Tuesday, also.”

The Bulldogs started the match well, opening up a 10-3 lead over the Eagle Indians in the first set before stumbling and tying the score at 14. The Bulldogs responded, however, and finished the set with an 11-6 run.

The second set was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first half. The Dalles built up a 24-13 lead, but the Bulldogs rattled off eight straight points before losing 25-21.

Even though they dropped the set, the late rally sparked the team’s intensity for the rest of the night.

Hermiston took control of the match in the third set with some strong play around the net and some timely serving by Ena.

The Bulldogs cruised to a match-clinching fourth set victory by beginning on a 16-0 run.

“The girls really stepped it up there,” Wadekamper said. “It’s a momentum game. If you can get a good run going you really want to ride it as long as possible.”

Shelby Sanders knocked out 10 kills and four blocks for the Bulldogs while Ena threw in four blocks of her own.

Defense played a crucial part of Hermiston’s success as Shay Kennison went 19-for-22 in serve-receive passing, and Ashley Moser contributed eight digs. Brea Kestler added 30 assists for the Bulldogs.

Wadekamper said she would have liked it if her team came away with a three-set win, but she’ll take any victory.

“This wasn’t our best tonight,’ she said. “Our match against Pendleton was the best we’ve played so far.”

The Bulldogs have won three straight, and Wadekamper believes a tough preseason schedule has helped sharpen her team.

“We opened with La Grande, and they’ve only lost one match thus far,” Wadekamper said. “We played in a few tournaments early with some great competition, and that has really given us some confidence as we get into league play. There’s a method to the madness.”

Hermiston heads to Barlow High School today for a non-league tournament. Wadekamper thinks it will be a great opportunity to see where her team stands.

“It’s exciting to see where you match up with some of the great teams in the state,” she said. “It will be fun to see how we step up.”

Tuesday, the Bulldogs beat Hood River in four sets, 22-25, 25-19, 25-13 and 25-20.

Ena had 10 kills and 23 digs, while Sanders led the team with six blocks.

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