Even though The Dalles Wahtonka lost a five-game heartbreaker to Hermiston, head coach Amy Schwartz is confident that this performance put the rest of the Columbia River Conference on notice.
TDW jumped out to a 2-1 match lead, but Hermiston bounced back with outputs of 25-22 and 15-10 to pull off the 3-2 comeback triumph Thursday in 5A volleyball play at Kurtz Gym in The Dalles.
“It is early on in the season. We will get there,” Schwartz said. “I think it is good for them to play this hard against Hermiston, who is ranked No. 1. We are ranked dead last. It is nice to be able to play five and know that you should have won in three. I think that is a big booster too. Next time we play them, we will win.”
With the match headed into a decisive fifth game, TDW struck first blood with Morgan Goslin at the service stripe.
The Tribe setter had two aces, Maddy Bradford and Lori Cimmiyotti added kills to put their team ahead by an 8-1 score.
Hermiston rallied with 11 consecutive points on two TDW errors, five kills and four blocks to the floor to make the score, 12-8.
Sanders and TDW’s Olivia Starks traded kills to make it 13-10 Hermiston, and then Noa Ena slammed down a kill, her 19th of the match, and Sanders put an exclamation point on the comeback with a block kill to give the Bulldogs a 15-10 win and the match.
Sanders said that even though her team fell behind 2-1 in the match, her teammates never gave up.
One area that led the comeback charge was net play – Hermiston posted 35 blocks.
“This means a lot,” said Sanders, who had seven blocks and seven kills. “We have proven to ourselves, to everybody, that we can keep it up, we can fight and we can keep going. This was the most important game that I can think of. It is amazing. I am pretty sure that most of the girls in the locker room are crying right now. That is how emotional this win is.”
The Eagle Indians and Bulldogs traded wins in the first three sets, as the home squad had things working in their favor early on with a 25-20 winner to go up 1-0.
Hermiston fell behind by as much as 12-9 in the second set and worked a 15-9 run to lead 24-21 at one point.
Starks had a kill and a service ace to bring the Tribe to within 24-23, but a return volley into the net on the ensuing rally gave Hermiston a 25-23 win and put the match at 1-1.
The Tribe did not let that outcome hinder their approach and they went on to roll for a 25-19 rally in the second game to regain an advantage.
Goslin had a stretch of nine straight service points with two aces to swell the Eagle Indian lead up to 17-9.
Hermiston inched to 21-18 after a kill by Shelby Sanders, but TDW notched a 4-1 spurt to take the set by six points.
In the fourth game, TDW led early by scores of 8-6 and 15-11, but the Bulldogs reached back for an 11-7 run to tie things up at 22-apiece.
However, TDW committed two hitting errors and Sanders had a kill, with the Bulldogs taking a 25-22 win to force a fifth game.
Starks had 16 kills, Bradford added six and Cimmiyotti slammed down five for the Eagle Indians.
Goslin went 24 for 24 from the service line, and dished off 22 assists.
Morgan Triperinas went 28 of 32 on digs, Cimmiyotti went 6 for 11 on blocks, went 19 for 19 on serves and Keaton Logue was 9 for 9 on serves with three aces.
In her opinion, Logue feels that communication and coverage need to be addressed in the next few days, but this is a good effort moving forward.
“I think we should keep our heads up because we all played well and had fun,” Logue said. “It was fun game even though we lost. We did well. I am more than confident we can come back stronger. All of the girls are close with each other and we all know we are a good team.”
Coming off a three-game sweep loss to Beaverton a week ago, Schwartz saw a hungrier team playing with more urgency.
“It is very encouraging. I thought the girls played much better than they did in the last match,” the second-year coach said. “They just played better as a team tonight. They were hustling, they were working together as a team and we had some good blocks up front. We are showing a lot more improvement, so we are totally pleased with that.”
TDW is in Wilsonville Saturday for tournament play.