On a night they honored their seniors, the Hermiston Bulldogs celebrated with a sweep of Southridge.
Kendall Dowdy had 33 assists and seven kills, and Grace Vertrees added seven kills as the Bulldogs posted a 25-14, 25-19, 25-21 Mid-Columbia Conference win Thursday over the Suns.
“This is emotional, especially with this group of girls,” said senior Emma Combes, who had four aces and four kills. “A win makes it that much better.”
The Bulldogs (5-7 MCC), who had to rally in the first and second sets for the win, led from start to finish in the third set. Other than ties at 8-8 and 9-9, Hermiston had its act together.
Dowdy opened the set with three consecutive points, and a pair of aces by Combes gave Hermiston a 6-2 lead.
The Suns (1-12 MCC) came back, but once the Bulldogs went out front 10-9, the closest the Suns would get would be 21-19 and 22-20.
Senior outside hitter Daisy Maddox finished the set and the match with a riveting kill.
“I’m proud of the girls, especially the seniors, for taking care of business in three,” Hermiston coach Amy Dyck said. “We are lucky. Our four seniors have vital roles on and off the court. They are good role models and it’s a privilege to coach them.”
The Suns raced out to a 6-1 lead in the first set, only to see the Bulldogs bounce back.
Combes served five points for a 7-2 lead, but Southridge’s Mattie Stayrook tipped over the block to even the score at 7-7.
Tied at 8-8, Halee Stubbs put four points in the board, getting help from Kambree Baker with a block, and a kill by Vertrees for a 12-8 lead.
When Stubbs rotated back around to the service line, she took the Bulldogs’ 19-13 lead and parlayed it into a 23-13 advantage, with Combes putting down a thunderous back row kill in the rally.
Vertrees had back-to-back kills to end the set.
“I love to hit from the back row,” Combes said. “If I miss, I want them to set me again; I will get it. I love playing the front row too. I like to hit.”
In the second set, the Suns led 8-3 after an ace by Stayrook, but the Bulldogs were able to pull within 8-7 with back-to-back kills by Baker and Dowdy.
Tied at 10-10, Baker served the next three points for Hermiston, including an ace and a double block by Malayna Anderson and Avery Treadwell. The Bulldogs never trailed again.
A big serving series by Combes gave Hermiston an 18-13 lead, and Vertrees added three points for a 24-17 lead.
Dowdy had the final kill for the win.
“For us, it takes a while to get going,” Dyck said. “But when we do, we can focus on our fundamentals and do what we do.”
Courtnee West added 14 assists for the Bulldogs, while Anderson had five kills and three blocks, Maddox five kills, and Baker two blocks.
For the Suns, Nicole Parker had five kills, three blocks and nine digs, while Jayden Smith added four kills and three blocks, Jordann Missett 11 assists, and Stayrook three kills and five digs.
“I’m extremely proud of the girls and how much they have grown since Day 1,” Southridge coach Emily Otto said. “They are really coachable, and they work their tails offs. They are very much about team.”