Union used a balanced attack to end a six-match losing streak against Wapiti League rival Imbler.
Ashten Wright had 10 kills, Ellie Clark and Katie Good both had seven, and the Bobcats opened league play with a sweep of the Panthers, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17, Thursday night in Union.
It was Union’s first win over the Panthers since a 3-1 win in October 2014.
“Just proud of the girls (and) the way they played as a unit,” Union head coach Lasa Baxter said. “They had big goals in mind. They kept their energy up (and) played a high intensity game.”
Clark also dished out 14 assists and served up three aces to lead the Bobcats who took control of the match after a back and forth first set.
“It’s definitely really exciting to win right off the bat in the first game of league. It definitely sets the tone for the rest of the year,” Clark said. “I think my team did a really good job of keeping our focus no matter what the score was.”
Clark, who had three straight kills late in the first set to help Union pull away, broke the second set open from the service line. The senior had nine straight service points — capped by an ace — during a 10-0 run that gave Union a 10-1 lead. Good had three kills during the streak.
“Her serve streak really got us going. That was a big push,” Baxter said.
Imbler showed some fight to get back into the set, pulling as close as 21-15 on a Hannah Kilpatrick kill. But Ann Joseph’s block started a set-ending 4-1 run, with Wright capping the set with a kill.
Union opened up a big lead in the third set, as well. An ace from Joseph and two kills by Wright helped give the Bobcats an early 9-2 lead.
The early run also featured the play of the night. Clark stuck her foot out to keep a ball alive on what otherwise would have been a kill for Imbler and popped the ball to Autumn Daggett, who played it over the net and saw it drop on the
Imbler side for a point.
“I think it’s just an instinct being around the game so long,” Clark said. “I think it was, ‘Uh, oh, that’s my ball. I have to get there somehow.’”
The Panthers saw their deficit grow to 18-6, then
20-8, but again tried to make it interesting. Kilpatrick had three straight aces during a 5-0 run, and Imbler pulled within 21-15 after Union put a kill attempt in the net. But Union kept Imbler at bay, and Clark put down a kill a few points later to end the match.
“I was pleased with how we played, especially in that first set,” Imbler head coach Jennifer Teeter said. “The second and third sets, when we were down, we didn’t give up. We kept battling, pulled back into it and at least stepped up and were challenging them.”
Joseph added five kills to help the balanced Imbler attack.
Allie Slater led the Panthers with nine kills and 10 digs. Kilpatrick added five kills and three aces, Katelyn Stirewalt collected 20 assists and Caysie McGinness added nine digs.
Union (9-1 overall, 1-0
Wapiti) continues league play today at Enterprise, while Imbler (3-10, 1-1) travels to Enterprise Tuesday.
Cougars move to 3-0 in OOL
Behind a strong effort at the net from Jamie Johnston, Wallowa is off to its best start in the Old Oregon League in three years.
Johnston had nine kills and seven blocks, and the Cougars moved to 3-0 in the OOL with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-14 win at Cove Thursday.
“This is the first time we’ve beat Cove in four or five years,” head coach Janea Hulse said. “That was a huge win for us.”
Indeed, it was the Cougars’ first win over Cove since the 2013 Old Oregon League Tournament. The victory also gives the Cougars their best start in league since they started both 2013 and 2014 with identical 3-1 marks.
After some back and forth early in the first set, Wallowa seized control.
Rylee Goller had consecutive aces as part of a 7-0 run, which ended with an Ashlyn Young kill for a 20-13 lead. Johnston added a block later to make it 24-16 and Wallowa took the set three points later.
Johnston was at it again early in the second set. The sophomore had three straight points — a kill, a block and another kill — to help Wallowa to a 9-3 lead.
“She works hard, Hulse said. “She goes all out. She doesn’t back down from anything. She’s fun to watch.”
The lead grew to as much as nine, and was 21-13 after a Goller kill before Cove tried to rally. Taylor Fett had an ace and Allie Best recorded a kill to bring the Leopards within 21-17, but they drew no closer.
The Cougars used a pair of runs in the third to build their lead. Johnston and Young bookended a 5-0 run with kills for a 12-5 lead. Two kills from both Goller and Riley Ferré, a Grace Pendarvis block and a Johnston kill were part of an 8-2 run to push the lead to 19-11. Ledbetter had two late kills for Cove, but Johnston finalized the match with a block.
Goller added 18 digs, four kills and three aces in the win for Wallowa. Ledbetter had 10 kills for Cove. Best added six kills.
Wallowa (4-3 overall, 3-0 OOL) travels to Joseph today. Cove (5-7, 1-2) is at Powder Valley today.
Badgers upend Eagles in five
Powder Valley knocked Joseph from the ranks of the unbeaten in the Old Oregon League, rallying to defeat the Eagles, 29-25, 25-22, 14-25, 25-19, 15-7, Thursday in Joseph.
“It is huge for these girls,” Powder Valley head coach Marji Lind said of the win. “They stayed focused and positive and got the job done.”
With the win, the Badgers also extended their winning streak to five matches in a row, while halting the Eagles’ run at seven straight wins.
Stats were not available.
The Badgers (11-9 overall, 2-0 OOL) host Cove today, while Joseph (10-7, 4-1) hosts Wallowa.
ELgin falls on the road
Elgin was rocked in the first set against Griswold and never recovered, falling in four sets to the Grizzlies, 25-6, 25-19, 21-25, 25-11, Thursday in Helix.
Taylor Noble led Elgin with five kills and Lille Harvey tallied 18 digs.
“It took us a little bit to get warmed up. Even though we lost, the girls did a really good job at adjusting and making improvements where it was needed, especially covering tips and blocks,” head coach Tiana Murphey said.
The Huskies (3-7 overall) travel to Grant Union Saturday.