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BATTLE AT THE NET: Wallowa's Lynique Oveson (In black and orange) goes up against Cove's Jeneal Gugin (3) and Jessica Cain Friday. Wallowa won the match in three games to take sole possession of first in the Old Oregon League. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).
BATTLE AT THE NET: Wallowa's Lynique Oveson (In black and orange) goes up against Cove's Jeneal Gugin (3) and Jessica Cain Friday. Wallowa won the match in three games to take sole possession of first in the Old Oregon League. (The Observer/RAENELLE KWOCK).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

WALLOWA — It was shame that either the Wallowa Cougars or Cove Leopards would walk away from their volleyball match with their first Old Oregon League loss.

The Cougars (2-0 OOL) swept the Leopards 25-19, 25-13, 25-18.

"I think defense was real key again tonight for us," Wallowa coach Terri Wilson said.

"I don't think the score reflects how much the girls played with their hearts," Cove coach Darcy Johnson said.

The Leopards (3-1 in OOL) started off strong in Game 1, taking a 10-6 lead, but were unable to hold off the Cougars.

Wilson said the Cougars tend to start slowly and then pull themselves out of the hole.

"I'm happy they can do it when they have to," she said.

Lynique Oveson snapped a 16-16 tie when she spiked the ball down the line for the Cougars. That gave Wallowa a 17-16 lead. Megan McLain followed with two service aces for the Cougars. Cove never caught the Cougars the rest of the way.

In Game 2, Oveson took over from the service line, unveiling her new jump serve. With the Cougars trailing 7-6, she ripped off 10 points in a row to change the momentum of the match.

Wilson said Oveson was extremely consistent in practice this week, and Wilson was impressed she had the confidence to go with it after two jump serves late in Game 1.

Oveson missed her 10th serve to give the ball back to the Leopards. However, the Leopards were unable to mount a rally.

The Cougars got off to a quick start in Game 3. They were leading 8-2 when the Leopards' Jessie Johnson had to be carried off the court.

Coach Johnson said she sprained her ankle and will be out this weekend for the Old Oregon Tournament in Baker City.

The Cougars were up 14-5 on Emily Isley's ace before the Leopards rallied. The Leopards closed to within 17-15.

"We had moments when we played panicked," Wilson said.

But for the most part, the Cougars never gave in and had the heart and desire when they needed it, she added.

Johnson said the Leopards have to start strong to play their game and work on communication.

Kara Mann was 24-for-24 setting. The Leopards served 45-for-56 for the match.

Johnson said the whole bench played well.

She added that Ashley Holland and Jeneal Gugin really stepped up at the net, and Kinsey Keagle did well passing coming off the bench.

The Cougars served over 90 percent. Oveson had four aces, Amber Josi and Isley had three each.

McLain did a great job in the back row passing, Wilson said.

The Cougars hit 85 percent (57-for-67) and had 20 kills as a team. Katie Sturtevant had 14 assists and Josi had six.

Oveson was 96 percent hitting with nine kills, and McLain was 93 percent hitting with five kills.

Oveson and Sturtevant had nine digs, McLain eight and Isley five.

McLain had four blocks and Oveson had one block.

Both Cove and Wallowa are playing in the Old Oregon League Tournament in Baker City today.

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