Powder Valley’s Taylor Martin digs out an attack by Joseph during a sweep Wednesday night. (Casey Kellas/The Observer)
NORTH POWDER — The Powder Valley volleyball team inched one step closer to a return to the state playoffs Wednesday night.
The Lady Badgers picked up a sweep over visiting Joseph in the first round of the Old Oregon League district tournament, defeating the Eagles 25-17, 25-22, 25-16.
“I think the girls were nervous a little bit,” Powder Valley head coach Lasa Baxter said. “We made a lot of changes this week, and we were putting them to the test.”
Joseph tested the Badgers right out of the gates, jumping out to 4-0 lead in the opening set. Powder Valley didn’t panic and settled in, coming back to tie the set at 8-all.
With the set tied at 10-all, the Badgers went on a 10-4 run to go up 20-14 and eventually closed the door on Set 1.
“They were nervous, but they kind of worked themselves out of it,” Baxter said of the Badgers’ early struggle.
The second set was a back-and-forth tilt that saw seven ties. The last tie came at 21-all before Powder Valley scored four of the final five points to take a two-set advantage.
Joseph pushed the Badgers in the third set as well, taking a 12-9 lead midway through the set and forcing a Powder Valley timeout.
But the Badgers rallied to tie the set at 14-all and scored 11 of the next 13 points to sweep the match.
“They knew they had a lot on the line, and they came ready to play,” Baxter said. “There was huge pressure after the season that we had last year. But there’s a lot of talent on this team. They’re a great ball club. So, I think they are a little bit hard on themselves mentally.”
Alyssa Aldrich led Powder Valley with 10 kills, while Taylor Martin added eight kills. McKenzie Hampton finished with 10 kills.
Next up for the Badgers is first-place Imbler Saturday. The winner will face the winner of the Cove-Wallowa match.
Wednesday’s game marked the end of the road for Joseph seniors Sydney Cooney, Mia Ritter-Whittle, Hailee McClure, Felicity Gross and Breeanna Gibson.
Wallowa 3, Pine Eagle 0
WALLOWA — The Wallowa volleyball team extended its season with a 25-22, 26-24, 26-24 victory over Pine Eagle in the first round of the OOL district tournament.
The Cougars will face second-seeded Cove Saturday in the second round.