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Imblerís Ally Fullerton digs an attack by Adrian Friday. The Panthers open the season with three wins over the weekend. (PAUL HARDER/The Observer)
Imbler shook off the rust of the opening weekend, picking up three wins.
In the home opener, Friday, the Panthers swept Adrian 25-9, 25-20 and 25-18.
“Girls are trying to do things perfectly,” Imbler head coach Jennifer Teeter said. “It’s the first game jitters. I was happy to see the girls work through it. That’s the only way to get through it, by playing the game.”
After cruising in the first set, Imbler struggled at times to put the ball away. However, the saving grace was the service game, keeping the Antelopes off balance.
The Panthers served at a 98 percent clip during the match.
“I’m very happy with that part of the game,” Teeter said. “Not only did we get the serves over the net, but the girls did it while serving aggressively. When you can do both it’s a fun thing to watch.”
With the service game keeping the Adrian offense out of sync, Imbler found it’s rhythm again on offense.
Tied 16-16 in the second game, Imbler went on a nine to two run to close it out, taking a commanding 2-0 advantage in the match.
Malia Mills helped the frontline secure the game. The senior finished the match with a team-high 18 kills.
She also had 13 digs and two service aces.
Emma Bowers helped fuel the push at the end of the match, collecting the final two kills.
Bowers was one of the girls trying to be perfect with the placement of her attacks. Like football, sometimes it takes getting that first hit against another opponent to signal it’s time to attack. Once the junior started swinging freely the kills started coming.
“It’s about making the adjustments,” Teeter said. “Seeing someone else on the other side of the net and knowing the swings count makes a difference. I told all the girls you have to be aggressive, we can’t play tentative.”
Bowers had five kills in the match, a team-high 17 digs and three ace serves.
Stephanie McGilvray had four kills and two blocks.
Jacey Teeter led the team with 30 assists. The senior added six kills, and was a perfect 8-of-8 serving.
Ally Fullerton finished with nine digs and an ace.
Saturday, the Panthers picked up a pair of wins.
Imbler started with a sweep of Class 2A Enterprise (25-15, 25-13, 25-14).
The Panthers concluded the opening weekend with another sweep, this time against Class 4A Baker City (25-6, 25-16, 25-16).
“It was a great team effort,” Teeter said. “We got to see what worked well and what we need to address this week in practice.
“Overall it was a great weekend for the program. Our varsity team got off to a great start as did our JV team. Now we just need to keep working. The team is excited to get back to practice this next week to continue moving toward our goals.”
Imbler will resume action Friday at Dufur. The Panthers, 23-5 last season, will be looking to avenge last season’s three-game loss against the Rangers. Junior varsity action begins at 4 p.m.
Bobcats get taste of action
JOHN DAY — The Union volleyball team started its season at the Grant Union Tournament Saturday. The Lady Cats beat Prairie City in two games before splitting with Cove and losing to Grant Union in pool play.
Union then lost to Nyssa 24-26, 17-25 in bracket play.
“We decided to go to that tournament on Wednesday of last week, so I don’t think we were as prepared as we could have been if we had known we were going there,” Union head coach Mendy Clark said. “But I think it was a great starting point for us.”
Viki McCabe led the Lady Cats with 21 kills and she was 87.5 percent hitting. Sarah Good had nine kills, Maddie Martens had 14 digs and nine serving aces, and Chelsie Houck had 15 digs and served 93 percent.
As a team, the Lady Cats served 91 percent.
“Now we have on paper the things that we need to work on,” Clark said. “This next week is going to be a busy one for us.”
Union hosts Wallowa Thursday at 5 p.m.
Elgin falls to Cove
COVE — The Elgin volleyball team fell to Cove 3-1 Friday in the season opener for both teams.
“Our first showing on the volleyball court went really well,” Elgin head coach Carmen Gentry said. “We only split our teams on Wednesday. So, one real varsity practice and a loss in four games is not too bad.”
Gentry is in her first season as head coach of the Elgin program.
“The girls are really going to come together very soon,” she said. “A good week in full practice and you will see a different team. Tonight, Katie Witherspoon was really on fire with her hitting, Aria Higgins, Stormy Silver and Miah Slater also had some great plays.”
Gentry said the Huskies struggled serving the ball.
“As a team, our serving killed us,” she said. “We gave away too many points to missed serves. We will work really hard in practice on our consistency with serving.”