The La Grande Tigers and Grant Union Prospectors traded rallies and points all night Tuesday.
In the end, it was the visiting Prospectors who strung together just enough points late to escape with a five-set win.
Grant Union used a 7-1 run in the final set to take the lead for good and went on to win a tight match against La Grande, 25-23, 26-28, 22-25, 25-18, 15-9.
“We knew Grant Union has a good team,” La Grande Head Coach Melinda Becker-Bisenius said. “We knew it was going to be a tough match. At times we looked great, and at other times we weren’t quite as mentally tough as we needed to be to win the rallies. I think that it was pretty evenly matched.”
The coach said the mental toughness was the difference in the deciding fifth set, especially once the Prospectors built up the lead.
Grant Union’s Hailie Wright had four kills in the fifth set, all at crucial times. She evened the score at 5-5 with a kill, then had back-to-back kills for a 10-6 lead. After La Grande rallied to get within 11-9 on a kill by Claire Hardy and an ace by Felicity Houston, it was another kill by Wright that started a 4-0 run to end the match.
Grant Union never trailed in the opening set, though the Tigers threatened to steal it from the Prospectors late. Riana Scott’s kill evened the first-set score at 21-21, and Presley Justice’s kill later made it 23-23 before Wright gave Grant Union the lead for good with a kill.
The Tigers got on the board in the second set, though not without having to withstand a Prospectors’ rally. A kill and ace by La Grande’s Jayce Seavert, and a Grant Union error, made it 21-15 Tigers. But the Prospectors pulled even at 22-all on a Taylor Allen ace and a
La Grande error, and briefly took the lead at 25-24 and 26-25. But two Prospector errors gave the Tigers the lead back, and Jaiden Hafer finished the set with a kill.
“We talk about taking it one point at a time, and not give up the little stuff,” Becker-Bisenius said. “I feel like we battled for the most part.”
La Grande withstood another Grant Union rally in the third set, then came back with one of its own. Two kills by Kenzie
Williams helped give the Tigers an 8-2 lead early, but two Sydney Brockway kills tied the score at 11-11. The Prospectors used a 4-0 run to take a 21-19 lead, but the Tigers leveled the score two points later on an ace by Seavert. Two more Grant Union errors and a kill by Hafer gave the Tigers a 24-21 lead, and they finished the set two points later.
But Grant Union went on
another big run to take the lead for good in the fourth set, and this time didn’t let the Tigers rally. The Prospectors turned an 11-7 deficit into a 17-12 lead with a lengthy rally, capped by back-to-back blocks by Trinity Hutchison. La Grande got back within four on three occasions, including at 18-14 on a block by Hafer and Seavert, but Wright had two late kills to help set up the final set.
Hardy led La Grande with 10 kills, while Seavert and Hafer had six each. Hafer also had three blocks. Seavert recorded 22 digs, while Houston had 17. Jacie Howton had 12 assists, Williams had 11 and Scott
tallied three aces.
La Grande (3-1 overall) visits Pendleton Thursday.