Union's Keesha Sarman digs the ball during the Lady Cats' 3-0 sweep of Pilot Rock Thursday. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
UNION — The Bobcats stayed tied for second in the Blue Mountain Conference volleyball race Thursday with a sweep of Pilot Rock.
While Weston-McEwen stayed undefeated with a 13-0 record, Union and Heppner remained tied with 10-3 marks for second place, one game ahead of Grant Union.
In other BMC action Thursday, Weston-McEwen swept Enterprise (25-14, 25-16, 25-20), while Irrigon defeated Stanfield by a 3-1 margin (26-24, 20-25, 25-22, 25-14).
The Lady Cats made short work of the visiting Rockets (2-12, 3-18) from the start, running away early for a 14-4 lead before cruising to a 25-13 decision.
That was a script the Union team followed in the next two games, taking a big lead, letting the Rockets come back a little before slamming the door on them.
The struggling Rockets were just that all night, according to Union coach Mendy Clark. The two teams have battled three times this season, with the Lady Cats winning all three contests.
The team made a strong showing at the serve line, with the Lady Cats cranking out 23 ace serves.
Keesha Sarman was 18 of 19 serving, with five aces, while Dani Sturm had seven aces and Bayly Poor was 10 of 10 with five aces.
“That means we scored 23 times with our serves,” Clark said.
The team missed four serves in the first game, but the coach talked to the team briefly before the second game, stressing getting serves in.
“When we serve the ball in the court, we get the point — so please do so,” she said.
Clark praised Sarman for her defensive play. The sophomore was 14 of 15 in digs, with 13 of them being “perfect” passes to another player, the coach said. “We keep stats on if the ball is just passed in the air, or if it is a perfect pass that we can make a play off of.
“Thirteen of her passes were perfect.”
Viki McCabe had seven kills, as did Kelsey Walenta and Poor. “Every player had at least one kill,” the coach added.
According to Clark, some of the errors Pilot Rock made were self-inflicted, while others were cause by the play of the Union squad.
“We have been battling our own problem with errors. We have been working to correct that and play the pace we want to play — not the pace the other team is playing.
“We accomplished that tonight. That was evidenced by all the hitting stats we have. We took a lot of swings at the ball,” the coach said.
We don’t get that many swings or those kind of stats unless we are playing our pace,” she said.
The team’s attackers have also worked hard at being smart at the net, not just relying on power, the coach added.
Union will be hosting both Irrigon and Elgin Saturday in a three-way contest, starting at noon. Irrigon is on a two-game win streak, after beating Umatilla in a non-league match and Stanfield. Elgin will be trying to pickup its first league win.
The top five teams will be meeting in the Blue Mountain Conference tournament Oct. 27 in Stanfield.
Weston-McEwen leads the league with a 13-0 mark, while Heppner and Union are tied for second (10-3), while Grant Union is fourth, one game back (9-4). Enterprise is battling with Stanfield for the final tourney berth, with the Outlaws (6-8) a half-game ahead of the Tigers (5-8).
The league has four teams in the top 11 of the OSAA 2A volleyball poll. Heppner is ranked third, Weston-McEwen fifth, Grant Union seventh and the Lady Cats 11th.