Playing on the road versus No. 12 Wilsonville, The Dalles volleyball team pushed the Wildcats to the limit in an OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires 5A state sub-round match, losing in three close sets Tuesday at Wilsonville High School.
In those three sets, the Riverhawks lost by an average of 5.33 points per set.
Wilsonville and The Dalles played their closest set of the match in the opener, with the host Wildcats taking a 25-22 score for a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we did a great job of coming out strong on the road, but we weren’t able to maintain it,” said The Dalles head coach Neticia Fanene.
Powered by that output in the first game, Wilsonville added a win of 25-16, before capping the sweep with a 25-21 finish.
Fanene was pleased with the serving effort put forth by her team, adding that the tough serves forced Wilsonville out of the system.
It is the other areas of the game where the Wildcats excelled, however.
“Wilsonville was able to keep the ball off the floor better than we did,” Fanene said. “They were out-hustling us. They moved the ball around offensively and we just didn’t have our digging game there tonight.”
In her final match, senior setter Morgan Goslin had 11 assists, three aces and three digs.
Another senior, Olivia Starks, added eight kills, three blocks, an ace and seven digs.
Lori Cimmiyotti notched two kills, two blocks and six digs, and Maddy Bradford was good for two kills to go along with four digs.
Savannah Bass had three assists and four digs, Sierra Watson tallied a kill and a dig, and Iliana Telles had another all-around match with three kills, an ace and eight digs.
For the past nine seasons, The Dalles varsity team has punched a state play-in ticket three times.
Tuesday’s match at Wilsonville marked the first postseason berth since 2011.
This team has gone through some promising moments, a few struggles and learned a lot of lessons in the past three months, with the biggest show of leadership coming after this team experienced a four-match losing skid to start off the year.
The Riverhawks sprung back with tournament wins over South Albany, Central and Seton Catholic, out of Washington, on their way to a pair of tournament championship berths in Parkrose and Hood River.
They also scored a two-match sweep over crosstown rivals Hood River Valley, the last coming on Oct. 21 to secure a postseason qualification.
“I can’t say how proud I am of these girls fighting until the end,” Fanene said. “We could have easily given up early (in the season), but they showed what talented athletes they are by staying competitive and never giving up.”
With Fanene taking over the coaching reins this season, TD won 23 sets, quadrupled its match win total and doubled its league win total.
With this level of success, Fanene has a plan of action for the offseason with open gyms and other activities to keep up to par with volleyball fundamentals.
“I expect that we need to get more touches on the ball during the offseason,” Fanene said. “We can’t go eight months without seeing a volleyball and expect to be a great volleyball team. We will create more opportunities for players to get some ball handling time, while they mostly will all be training in their other sports.”
Starks, Goslin and Elizabeth Peters are set to graduate, so a new batch of senior leaders such as Bradford, Deysi Velador, Cimmiyotti and Keatin Logue will be called upon to shoulder much of the leadership attributes in 2015.
Just because Fanene coached the Riverhawks to the postseason in her first year on the varsity coaching side, does not mean she is satisfied with her work-.
There is plenty to improve upon.
“We have set a new expectation for the program and we will be better prepared in August 2015,” she said.
For additional information or questions, call the athletics office at 541-506-3400 or email vennewitza @nwasco.k12.or.us.