The La Grande Tigers and Pendleton Buckaroos seem to have an affinity for playing five-set matches.
The teams went the distance for the seven time in their last 13 meetings on Thursday. This time, though, the match went to the visiting Buckaroos.
Daisy Jenness had 11 kills, Zoey Jones added 10, and Pendleton rallied to top the Tigers, 25-17, 24-26, 21-25, 25-14, 15-4, Thursday at La Grande High School.
“I think at the end of the game we ran out of gas,” La Grande head coach Melinda Becker-Bisenius said. “We were struggling to put the ball away and keep the ball in play, and that is something we do well at. It’s going to happen against a good team.”
Buckaroos’ head coach Amanda Lapp said her team has shown an ability early in the season to come on strong late, and did so Thursday.
“We see them come out and really try to dig deep in the last,” she said. “They’re (finding) heart, and wanting to dig in not just for one person to get the kill, but for the team. “They’re thinking, ‘I wanna get this.’”
Pendleton rolled in the fourth set, using a 13-1 run to build a double-digit lead and coast to an easy win, then rode that momentum into the decisive fifth set, one in which it was never threatened. Jones and Jenness teamed on a block to start a 5-0 run that gave the Bucks an 8-2 lead on a Jenness kill. DeLaney Duchek later had an ace and Emma House had two kills before Jenness ended the match with a kill and its first win of the young season.
“It took a lot of heart,” Jones, who also had a .500 kill percentage, said. “We really needed to come together as one and finish strong.”
Pendleton seemed primed to get out with a quick win. The Buckaroos scored the final five points to pull away late for the first-set victory, and raced out to a 14-4 lead in the second set with a powerful offensive attack.
“We’re trying to get them balls on the net so they can get up and swing well,” Lapp said.
La Grande, which started the match slow, chipped its way back into the second set, getting within 15-11 on a kill by Jayce Seavert. Pendleton pushed the lead back to 21-14 on a Jones kill and was up 23-18. But La Grande scored the next five points to pull even, and eventually eked out the set to knot the score on another kill by Seavert, who had eight on the night for the Tigers.
La Grande rode the momentum to an early lead in the third set, going up 6-0 and later 8-1. Pendleton briefly got as close as three, then two, and eventually took a 21-20 lead on a House kill and two La Grande errors. But Presley Justice had back-to-back kills to help La Grande retake the lead, and two Pendleton errors gave the Tigers the set.
Once Pendleton reclaimed the momentum, though, La Grande didn’t have an answer.
“This match was pretty tough,” said Justice, who had 15 kills to lead the Tigers. “Losing that first set bummed us out. In the second set we got the momentum back. We could have had that game, (but) I think we let ourselves go in the fifth set.”
Kenzie Williams had 22 assists for La Grande, Jacie Howton had 13 assists and Felicity Houston led the Tigers’ back row with 23 digs. Seavert added 18 digs.
Carissa Cooley led the Pendleton defense with 18 digs, while House had 11. Sam Spriet had 16 assists, Sauren Garton added 11, and both Cooley and Duchek had two aces.
The Tigers (5-1 overall) host Nyssa Wednesday.
Leopards top Outlaws
The Enterprise Outlaws were unable to maintain momentum after winning the first set and dropped a four-set home match to the Cove Leopards, 15-25, 27-25, 25-14, 25-20, Thursday.
Ashlyn Gray led the Enterprise offense with 13 kills. Claire Farwell had 19 digs and Zari Bathke had three aces.
“We folded in the third set, coming off the momentum swing towards Cove late in the second set,” Enterprise head coach Lisa Farwell said. “We need to improve our discipline and eliminate the mental mistakes if we want to keep the momentum throughout the entire match.”
Stats were not available for Cove.
Enterprise (4-3 overall) travels to the Prairie City Tournament Saturday, while Cove (3-0) is at the Helix Tournament Saturday.
The Powder Valley Badgers continued their hot start to the season, handling Weston-McEwen its first loss with a 26-24, 25-10, 25-19 road sweep Thursday.
“It was a good win for us, as they were ranked No. 1 for 2A,” head coach Marji Lind said. “We started off kind of slow, but games 2 and 3 (the) girls started passing well.”
Stats were not available.
The Badgers (8-1 overall) host Wallowa next Thursday to begin Old Oregon League play.
Bobcats roughed up
The Union Bobcats opened the season with a tough 56-0 loss to the Crane Mustangs Thursday in a nonleague game in Ontario.
State were not available.
Union (0-1 overall) faces Imbler next Friday at EOU.