The Hermiston Bulldogs split their matches Thursday at the MCC/GSL District 8 tournament, extending their season into this week.

Hermiston opened play at Kamiakin High School with a sweep of North Central, and then dropped a hard-fought match to the host Braves in three sets.

“They are fierce competitors,” Bulldogs coach Amy Dyck said of her team. “Sometimes it takes them a while to get going, but they don’t get discouraged.”

The Bulldogs (8-11) will play a loser-out match at 6 p.m. Thursday at Kennewick, while Kamiakin (10-6) will take on Mt. Spokane in the district title game.

“They are the big dogs,” Braves coach Morgan Schauble said of undefeated Mt. Spokane, which won the 3A state title last year. “They are good.”

The Bulldogs who were without Grace Vertrees (illness) and Daisy Maddox (vacation), put up a good fight against the Braves, losing all three sets by identical scores of 25-19.

“We knew they would be after us,” Schauble said. “They don’t let the ball drop. We have been working extremely hard this week on defense and our hitting.”

The teams traded blows in the first set, which Hermiston led 10-5 at one point. Kendall Dowdy and Kambree Baker put up a pair of blocks on Delaney Frame, and Courtnee West had a string of four points to take the lead.

Frame later served to tie the score, and Yajaira Meraz gave the Braves a 17-13 lead with three points. From there, Frame had four kills as Kamiakin held on for the win.

It would be the Braves who jumped out to an early lead in the second set — 13-5 before a tip by Emma Combes helped turn the tide.

The Bulldogs would get no closer than seven points the rest of the set.

In the decisive third set, Kamiakin led 10-2 before the Bulldogs got into a rhythm. Dowdy served eight consecutive points to make the score 16-15. The teams traded points until a kill by Frame gave the Braves a 21-19 lead. Frame then served out the match.

“I’m proud of them for coming back and fighting in the third set,” Dyck said.

Combes had seven kills and 13 digs for the Bulldogs, while Dowdy had four kills, 15 digs and seven assists. Halee Stubbs had 26 digs, and Baker five blocks.

Frame led Kamiakin with nine kills and 16 digs, while Graysen Banta had 17 digs. Aspen Harrison had eight kills, Taryn Vrieling six kills, 15 digs and two blocks, and Brooklyn Ford four blocks, 12 assists and 10 digs.

HERMISTON 3, NORTH CENTRAL 0 — Dowdy had 10 kills and 18 assists as the Bulldogs overcame a slew of unforced errors (36) for a 25-23, 25-23, 25-22 victory over the Indians.

“When it’s the day of the match and you have to switch your lineup around, it came be confusing,” Dyck said. “It shows what they are capable of.”

Hermiston led 9-3 in the first set, and fought through four ties — the last one being 20-20 — to win the first set.

North Central (4-8) had the early lead in the second, but the Bulldogs took the lead for good at 12-11.

In the third, the set was tied at 21-21, but two points by Dowdy gave Hermiston a little breathing room. Combes served an ace on match point.

Stubbs had 23 digs and three aces for the Bulldogs, while Avery Treadwell had nine kills, and Combes seven kills and nine digs.

Katie Allbery led the Indians with seven kills.

Lilli Carruthers had 12 assists. Kinsley Nelson and Karissa Buringa had eight digs apiece.

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