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Rangers defeat defending champs

Matches against Big Sky Conference opponents are always a must-watch for the Dufur volleyball team.

Saturday, the Lady Rangers had one of their toughest tussles of the regular season, including defending 1A state champion Imbler Saturday in a three-way duel at Imbler High School.

Right off the bus, Dufur immediately went to work opposite the highly-touted Panthers, but initially stubbed their toe in a 25-20 loss.

However, the Rangers hung tough in the second game for a 25-21 run to even the match at 1-apiece.

Dufur took a 2-1 match lead by running away with a 25-21 marker to go one win from taking this important showdown.

In the final frame, the Lady Rangers posted their largest margin of victory over Imbler with a reading of 25-19 giving them a four-game triumph.

“Great match tonight against the defending state champions,” said head coach Kelly Darden. “We played awesome.”

On the stat line, Dufur dropped 26 kills and committed just 18 errors on 100 attacks.

The team added an 86 of 94 split from the service line with four aces, and they tacked on 60 digs and three blocks.

Taylor Darden paced the squad with 15 kills, 11 digs, two blocks and an ace.

Tianna Ellis had five kills and three digs, Abby Stelzer was good for 21 digs and Montana Ferres chipped in with four kills and 13 digs.

Sophomore setter Sydney Reed completed 100 percent of her serves, dished up 22 assists and dove for seven digs.

“These girls are really playing well together, so exciting to see their potential,” the Ranger coach said. “Taylor, Montana, and Abby are showing great leadership, while Sydney taking the helms at the setting position. Loved their win tonight.”

Given the magnitude of the road win over Imbler, the work continued in the nightcap versus Powder Valley.

The Lady Rangers sailed in 16 aces and committed six service errors on 74 attempts in cruising to a three-game sweep over the Badgers.

Dufur played a solid opening game with a 25-17 score giving them a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second game, the Rangers pulled off the largest win of the night for a 25-15 rally to make it a 2-0 match.

Finally, the Lady Rangers completed the sweep in a close battle down the stretch for a 25-22 winner.

Ferres had another double-double to her record with 10 kills, four aces and 12 digs.

Reed dropped 11 assists and nine digs and Stelzer netted seven digs.

Taylor Darden tallied three kills, two aces and three digs in her short stint on the hardwood, as the team had 43 digs and connected on 62 of 79 kill shots.

“The girls played well again, serving tough and playing some great defense,” coach Darden said of the Powder Valley match. “Two huge wins tonight for the Lady Rangers.”

Dufur (4-0 overall) hosts Heppner at 4:30 p.m. Thursday evening.

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, the Rangers pay host to handful of schools for the Ranger Classic Jamboree.

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