Lady Panthers win eighth straight
IMBLER — The 10th-ranked Imbler Panthers opened Old Oregon League play Tuesday, logging a three-game sweep of Wallowa.
But it wasn’t easy.
“The middle game got a little close,” said Imbler coach Jennifer Teeter after the three-set victory (25-14, 25-19, 25-7).
“Our serving in the third game was a factor — it allowed us to do the things we wanted to do offensively,” Teeter added. “We had strong serving from Ally (Fullerton).”
With Fullerton at the service line, the Lady Panthers scored the games final seven points to claim the game win and the sweep of the Cougars.
“She was 20 for 20 serving and had three aces at least.” Her final ace won the game and the match.
Jacey Teeter finished the night with 17 for 17 serves and 20 setting assists.
Malia Mills led the powerful Panther attack with 20 kills, while Danika McIntosh had 13.
Defensively, McIntosh led the Lady Panthers with 18 digs, followed by Rikki Griffin with 11 digs.
For the Lady Panthers, it is a tough opening week of league play.
“We are starting off our first week with three matches. It definitely will be a challenge for us with our next two being at Powder Valley and then again at home against Pine Eagle.
“We haven’t seen either one of them in the preseason,” the coach added.
Looking to the upcoming games, Teeter said she will probably go with the same game plan that has brought success this season. “We’ll focus on one point at a time...one set at a time. We will try to play our game.”
Teeter admitted that the Lady Panthers struggled Tuesday several times before they got back in control. “In that second game... we struggled on a few serve receives and Wallowa had some really strong serving that we struggled with a little bit.
“The biggest plus of that set was we were able to overcome when we were struggling and still come out on top,” she added.
Wallowa has the potential to be a very strong team, Teeter added. “I only look for them to continue to improve as the season goes on.
“Hopefully, we will do the same.”
For the Wallowa coach, it was another rollercoaster ride as she watched her young squad take the lead several times, but were still unable to finish off their opponents when they had the upper hand.
“Samantha Johnston blocked really well tonight. She stepped it up with a good game,” said coach Janea Hulse. “She had three solo blocks and 13 assists.”
In the second game, the visiting Lady Cougars caught the struggling Imbler squad and held as large as a five-point lead (15-10) over their foes.
But then, the Panthers roared back to tie at 15 before Wallowa could score again.
The Lady Cougars pulled ahead again to a 17-15 lead on Imbler's unforced errors.
But Imbler came back again scoring 10 of the game's next 12 points to pull away for the win, mostly on the power of Mill's kills. "They played a great second game, as a whole," the coach added.
But again, it was unforced errors and communications breakdowns that proved to be the achilles heel for the Lady Cougars in Imbler Tuesday. "Especially in the third game," the coach said.
Sally Mary Blair led Wallowa with five kills. "She put the ball in some good places. She played smart," the coach said.
The games with imbler also showed that the team needs to work more on their defense, to try to be ready for their next foe -- Cove on Friday, according to Wallowa's coach.