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Powder Valley’s McKinsey Hampton goes up for a block in the Lady Badgers’ sweep of Monument/Dayville Saturday. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
NORTH POWDER — It took just three games, but Powder Valley grabbed another ticket to the state championship tournament Saturday by eliminating Monument/Dayville.
For the last two years, Powder Valley has made it to the state finals, only to see a state crown escape in five-set decisions that left them with second-place trophies.
This time, it was Monument/Dayville that was put in the path between Powder Valley and the state tournament.
The top-ranked Badgers marched the visiting Tigers to an exit with 25-7, 25-18, 25-10 wins. Monument/Dayville earned the role of sacrificial lamb by bouncing Prospect Charter in the first round with a five-set road win.
The Tigers (11-7, 8-2) had entered the playoffs ranked 31st by the OSAA in the final girls volleyball poll, but it was 12th-ranked Prospect Charter (18-6, 12-2) that paid the price Wednesday.
The Cougars won the first game by a 25-8, only to fall to the Tigers in the second game, 27-25, tying the match at one game each. A 25-22 win gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead over the favored Cougars, but their hosts came back with a 25-11 win to force a fifth game.
Monument/Dayville won the 15-11 fifth set and claimed the first round upset.
Although they entered North Powder with upset hopes and a small vocal group of fans who made the trip, the opening loss didn’t quell either.
In the second game, the Tigers broke a 3-all tie to open up an 8-4 lead on the Badgers early. Miscues and misplays led Powder Valley to stay behind until Monument/Dayville had built an 11-6 lead.
However, the visiting Tigers didn’t have an answer for Ali Abrego. The senior led the Badgers on a scoring binge with three kills that brought Powder Valley back to a 12-10 score. A successful block and a service ace by Alexandra Colton tied the score at 12-all. An Abrego kill gave the lead briefly to the Badgers.
But the two teams kept battling back and forth through a 16-16 tie.
An ace by McKinsey Hampton gave the lead for the final time to the Badgers as they ran off a 7-1 scoring run before winning the game, 25-18.
The Badgers jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead in the final game, with kills by Jessica Pedro and a strong serving performance from Abrego.
Back-to-back aces by Pedro helped build the lead to 14-3.
The Badgers won the game 25-10, getting the game and match-winning point when Monument/Dayville couldn’t control a hit that ricocheted off the ceiling.
Pedro finished the game with 15 kills, while Abrego had five kills.
According to coach Lasa Baxter, Abrego’s best perfomance was serving.
“She stayed serving so long during the games, she didn’t get many kills.” Abrego finished with 21 serves. Hampton had 20 serves.
“Serving is crucial for us. We try to serve them out of system,” Baxter said. “We had a server hit well and was hitting her target well.What happens is that it moves them out of their system and you get easier balls coming back. We can set up our offense with a good pass, then we can get good swings.Good swings we make kills.”
The Badgers have effective hitters, Baxter added. “If we get good passes, we get good swings and we get good kills.”
Both the defense and serving are crucial for the Badgers to succeed, the coach added.
Th Badgers will play in the state quarterfinals Friday against Yoncalla, the Skyline League champions with a 17-2 season record. The Eagles won their ninth-straight contest when they handed second-ranked Dufur a 3-0 loss Saturday in Dufur.
For the visitors, it was an abrupt end to a dream season.
“We have a really young team,” said coach Patti Wright after the season-ending loss. “We have a freshman starting in the middle and a sophomore outside hitter. They have learned so much this year. This is kind of amazing that we have got to the second round of the state playoffs — because Dayville hasn’t had a team that went since 1986.”
Wright returned to her alma mater to help coach the volleyball just before the season. “This has been really great to step in and see the girls work as hard as they have this season.
“We went to Prospect Wednesday and knocked off a number-two team (Mountain Valley League). We came in as a number three in our district (High Desert League). So that was quite a triumph for us,” Wright said. “It was a six-and-a-half hour bus ride and we were able to beat them on their home court.”
But the loss to Powder Valley hurt. “It is sad to go out before we reach the tournament, but Powder Valley is an excellent team. If you are going to get beat, you want to get beat by the best. It’d be a little less hurtful.
“Our kids did okay. It has been a great season,” Wright added. The Tigers lose three players to graduation, with two of them splitting a position. The veteran coach has 15 years experience on the bench at Grant Union and schools in Cour d’Alene (Idaho) and Arizona.
“It’s great to give back to the school and the community that gave so much to me,” Wright said. With a young team, the new Tiger coach is looking forward to return trips to the playoffs. “I won three state championships when I went to school there. One of these days, maybe we’ll go back again.”
Imbler buries ‘Lopes for tourney trip
ADRIAN — Imbler made the final eight by knocking off Adrian in three games (27-25, 25-23, 25-14) Saturday.
It was the second time the Panthers defeated the Antelopes this season.
Imbler opened their season with a 3-0 win over the Antelopes and handed Adrian its first loss of the season.
Jacey Teeter had 34 assists, 11 digs and five kills, while Malia Mills had 17 kills, six digs and was 22 for 22 serving.
Danika McIntosh was 16 for 16 serving and had 13 digs, and Ally Fullerton was nine for nine serving with 11 digs. Emma Bowers added 14 kills, Rikki Griffin had five digs and Maddy Lease had seven digs.
The victory moved the Lady Panthers into a battle with Hosanna Christian in the opening round of tournament play at 10 a.m. Friday at Ridgeview High School in
Cove stumbles to Lions
KLAMATH FALLS — The road to the final eight ended at Hosanna Christian Saturday for the Cove Leopards.
They started off with a narrow 27-25 victory over the favored Lionesses.
But Hosanna Christian came back to sweep the next three games (25-12, 25-13, 25-23 ) and end the Leopards’ season hundreds of miles from their home turf.