At the start of the season, the Hermiston volleyball team was in over its head in the highly competitive Mid-Columbia Conference. By the end of the season, they were one win away from going to the state tournament.

The Bulldogs (8-12) swept Kamiakin, then dropped a three-set match to Southridge (18-10) on Saturday at the Region 5/8 tournament in Kennewick. They came into Saturday after a win on Thursday, when Sophia Streeter had seven kills, and Ireland McDonough had eight aces and 13 digs to lead the Bulldogs (7-11) to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-23 victory over visiting Shadle Park.

“I think most people thought coming into the league that we would be at the bottom,” Hermiston coach Amy Dyck said. “No reason we can’t believe we can fight for a berth to state. We far exceeded expectations. I am so proud of them.”

Hermiston opened play Saturday with a 25-20, 26-24, 25-23 victory over Kamiakin in a loser-out match, beating the Braves for the first time this season.

Sophia Streeter led the attack with seven kills and three blocks, while Scout Reagan added seven kills and four digs.

“For us to take Kamiakin in three, and finish the match the way we wanted to play is huge for us,” Dyck said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for our seniors.”

Tied at 6-6 in the first set, Ireland McDonough reeled off eight consecutive points for a 14-7 lead.

The Braves chipped away at the lead until they forged an 18-18 tie. Hermiston led 21-20 when McDonough took her turn at the service line for the second time.

Kamiaki’s Delaney Frame hit the ball out of bounds, Avery Treadwell had a kill for the Bulldogs, and Kendall Dowdy and Reagan blocked Autumn Zilar for a 24-20 lead. A tip by Reagan found an empty hole on the other side of the net for the win.

Streeter had five of her kills in the second set, which was controlled by Kamiakin until the Bulldogs tied the score at 14-14.

The Braves led 9-3 early on, but another strong performance at the service line by McDonough, and a couple of points by Dowdy, had the Bullodgs in contention.

Tied at 22-22, Halee Stubbs gave the Bulldogs a 24-22 lead. The Braves tied the match at 24-all. A kill off a block gave Hermiston a 25-24 lead, and a kill by Dowdy gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

Hermiston took control of the third set after a 7-7 tie. The Bulldogs led 19-13, then had to hold off the Braves down the stretch, finishing the match with a kill by McDonough.

Dowdy handed out 18 assists, along with five kills and seven digs, while McDonough had four aces and 18 digs, and Stubbs 24 digs.

“I’m just waiting for them to finally believe they are capable of this,” Dyck said. “We just have to go out, play our butts off and take care of our side of the net.”

The Bulldogs did not fare as well against Southridge. The Suns swept Hermiston 25-8, 25-18, 25-12 to punch their ticket to state.

Hermiston started the match one player short as Reagan injured her left ankle in warmups and was unable to play. In the third set, Streeter injured her foot and had to come off the court.

“Having that injury right before the match, then Sophia going down, things were stacked against us,” Dyck said. “It would have been easy to bail, but they didn’t. That shows what type of program we are building, and what we will have in the future.”

Streeter had seven kills before she went down. Stubbs added 11 digs, while Dowdy had 11 assists, McDonough four kills and eight digs, and Haylee Hamilton three aces and four digs.

Sophia Sumner led the Suns with 14 kills, while Ashlyn Dupuis added 10 kills and four aces, Bobbi Newton seven kills and four aces, and Kennedy Conrad 15 assists.

“They definitely earned it,” Southridge coach Emily Otto said of her team’s berth to state. “I am so excited and proud of them. They have overcome a lot and they wanted it. They have worked their tails off. All of them are able to play a lot of positions, and they take care of the ball.”

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