Standing as one, bellowing out chords of the Star Spangled Banner, The Dalles volleyball team displayed its unity even when the audio system malfunctioned during pregame ceremonies.
Nothing is going to stop this No. 4-ranked freight train.
Lori Cimmiyotti hammered home a career-high 24 kills and teammates Maddy Bradford and Iliana Telles added nine kills apiece, as the Riverhawks staked claim to a four-game triumph over Pendleton Thursday in a Columbia River Conference match played at Kurtz Gym in The Dalles.
Although their run of eight straight sweeps went by the wayside, the Hawks followed up a second-set loss with a dominant performance down the stretch.
With the win, the Hawks are alone in first place, with a one game lead over No. 10 Hood River Valley, four in front of Pendleton and five ahead of Hermiston.
“It means a lot to be in the position we are in. We worked so hard to get where we are. We are just so connected as a team to win as a team,” said Deysi Velador. “To see us play together and get these wins, puts all above anything else.”
The Dalles won the opening set by a 25-17 score to take an early advantage in this league tussle.
Pendleton, however, bounced back to even the match at 1-apiece after a 25-16 win to mark the first set win by a TD opponent in a non-tournament match all season.
“They were nervous about Neticia being absent it showed in the second game when we got off to a rough start, but we moved forward quickly in the third game,” said TD assistant coach Tim Logue.
TD answered the bell in the third and held a 16-11 lead at one point, before moving ahead with another 25-17 win to lead 2-1. The Riverhawks then slammed the door shut on the Lady Bucks by a 25-13 margin in Game 4.
In addition to her 24 kills, Cimmiyotti added two blocks and Bradford chipped in a block assist to her nine kills registered.
Kayla Seibel continued her resurgent play with three kills and a block, Sierra Watson tacked on two kills and the underclassmen duo of Jodi Thomasian and Bailey LeBreton both got kills.
“We hit pretty well tonight,” Logue said. “They didn’t have a solid block, so we tried to exploit it when we could. Serving well definitely allowed us to keep momentum.”
From the service stripe, Cimmiyotti was perfect in her double-digit attempts and so was Velador.
Logue added that the team had some struggles being too aggressive and were whistled for net violations, but they adapted and became more disciplined and turned it around.
TD has now won 12 matches in a row overall, seven in non-tournament matches.
Before Thursday, the last time TD lost a set was on Sept. 4, a 2-0 decision versus McNary at the Mountain View Tournament in Bend.
TD has put the success of the regular season in its proper perspective, using the focus of being better tomorrow not just yesterday. The next match is always more important than the last, Logue said.
“Our winning streak is amazing and it feels great, but every day at practice, we are like, ‘Good job. We won again, but what can we do to get better? What is next?’” Velador said. “We kind of push everything aside, celebrate for five minutes and think about what we can do as a team and as teammates to get better, what areas we have done better in and us pushing forward each time and working harder and harder in practice. Because you play how you practice.”
Velador added that the team is always pushing each other to get to a higher level.
“Our record is something that helps us stay motivated to keep up to, but it is not something that we dwell on,” she said. “We push all of it to the side and look forward to the next match.”
The Dalles High School (15-1 overall, 5-0 league) heads to the Hood River Valley Tournament with its first match slated for 8 a.m. Saturday.
At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Hawks travel to Hood River again for a league contest against the Eagles (6-3, 4-1).