The second half of the Mid-Columbia Conference volleyball schedule started Thursday night, putting the Hermiston Bulldogs back on the court with the hard-hitting Southridge Suns.
Despite one of Sophia Streeter’s best performances of the season, the Bulldogs (2-5) fell to the Suns 25-19, 25-13, 25-13 in Kennewick.
“Players like Sophia, when she is on she is unstoppable,” Hermiston coach Amy Dyck said. “Tonight was amazing for her, and she stayed aggressive.”
Southridge (5-2) got nine kills and 14 digs from Sophia Sumner, and six kills, nine assists and 12 digs from Kennedy Conrad as the Suns continue to be one of the top teams in the league.
“I have been with them since they were freshmen, and I haven’t seen them play like this for a long time,” Suns coach Emily Otto said. “They are having fun and playing with heart. They feed off each other’s energy.”
Hermiston was in the thick of things in the first set. The set was tie at 7-7 before Sumner reeled off a string of points for a 13-7 lead. The Bulldogs would pull within 20-17 late, but a kill by Ashlyn Dupuis sealed the win for Southridge.
The Suns were relentless the rest of the match. They led 7-1 early in the second set as Dupuis served up three aces in a run of five points. Eleven unforced errors by Hermiston helped the Suns to leads of 12-3 and 19-7.
“We are still working on our mental toughness,” Dyck said. “When things get tough, we have a tough time trusting our skills. We would dig ourselves a hole, and trying to pull teenage girls out of that is not easy.”
In their previous game on Tuesday, Sept. 25, the Bulldogs showed some of that toughness.
Though Hermiston dropped its home conference match to Hanford 25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-17, the team was more confident on the court.
“Our middles are becoming more comfortable and we are battling as a team,” Dyck said. “That tells me we are doing the right stuff. We are young in volleyball IQ, but every day in practice they are working to get better. We push them and demand a lot of them.”
Hanford led the first set from start to finish, taking leads of seven and nine points before Sage Sjogren reeled off an ace serve to secure the set.
The Bulldogs came right back in the second, battling through ties of 18-18 and 19-19 before pulling away.
Kendall Dowdy served two points for a 21-19 lead, and Sophia Streeter and Ireland McDonough had kills to seal the win.
Tied at one set each, the Bulldogs trailed 24-13 in the third set before riding a nine-point run by Courtnee West at the service line. Isabel Dockendorff put down a kill to secure the set for the Falcons.
At the start of the season, that rally was not in the cards.
“Our expectation is that they come and learn every day,” Dyck said. “They are doing it.”