A slow start by Hermiston paid dividends for Kamiakin in their Mid-Columbia Conference volleyball match Thursday night.
The Braves cruised to a 25-13 win in the first set, but had to hold off the host Bulldogs down the stretch to finish off the sweep 25-21, 25-19.
“We struggle with starting out dialed in,” Hermiston coach Amy Dyck said. “Unfortunately, it takes a lot of momentum to get our focus out there. When we take care of business on our side, we are right there.”
The loss gives the Bulldogs (4-8 MCC) the No. 3 seed from the MCC for the regional tournament that begins Nov. 1. The Bulldogs will play North Central at 5 p.m. at Southridge High School. The Suns will play the winner of the match.
Kamiakin (6-6) will be the No. 2 seed and will play Shadle Park at Mount Spokane.
Kamiakin’s Delaney Frame controlled the play at the net Thursday night, pounding down 12 kills. Autumn Zilar added seven kills and Aspen Harrison five.
“We are getting there,” Kamiakin coach Morgan Schauble said. “We still have goals to accomplish. We are young, but we don’t use that as an excuse.”
The Braves jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first set, then went on to take leads of 14-4 and 18-8 as Hermiston could not establish a rhythm to its offense. Kamiakin had just four unforced errors in the set, with two being missed serves.
“When we play against teams with sound volleyball players, you have to be dialed in because they aren’t going to make mistakes,” Dyck said. “You have to play clean.”
In the second set, the Bulldogs found themselves down 19-9 before rallying to pull within 24-21. Service runs by Halee Stubbs and Scout Reagan helped pull Hermiston back into the match, but they still fell short in the end.
The Bulldogs kept the third set close, getting kills by Kendall Dowdy and Avery Treadwell, along with a key block from Sophia Streeter to make it 10-7.
An ace serve by Dowdy made it 10-8, and the Bulldogs later pulled within 13-11. A string of points at the service line by Reagan had Hermiston within 20-18, forcing Kamiakin to call a timeout.
A Kamiakin kill forced sideout, and three points by Makenna Morgan gave the Braves a 24-18 lead. Frame laid down the final kill to complete the sweep.
“We had some long rallies,” Dyck said. “A month ago, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Daisy Maddox led the Bulldogs with six kills, while Dowdy added five kills, 11 assists and three blocks. Stubbs chipped in with 21 digs, while Reagan had 10 digs and Streeter three kills and three blocks.
Brooklyn Ford handed out 23 assists for Kamiakin, which also got 13 digs from Graysen Banta.