HERMISTON — The Hermiston volleyball team hasn’t had the easiest go this season. The young squad with many first time varsity players have been up against well-seasoned and veteran teams that have both the mental and physical part of the game down.
That was the tale again Thursday when Hermiston hosted Hood River Valley. The Bulldogs faced the Eagles once this season already, and it was only a week ago that they were handed a 0-3 loss. This time, on their court, it was no different.
Hood River Valley dominated in all three sets, winning 25-8, 25-5, 25-11. The Eagles (8-4 overall, 4-1 CRC), who are ranked No. 13 in the OSAA, had a group of upperclassmen running the show. Junior Katie Kennedy and seniors Shae Duffy and Kennedy James were too much for the Bulldogs (2-11, 0-5) to contain. But it was for a lack of effort, or even talent.
“Right now it’s not a physical thing,” head coach Amy Dyck said. “It’s a mental thing and we’ll get there.”
While attack errors and a break down in communication plagued Hermiston’s offense, there were moments where the girls shined.
After coming out of a timeout in the first set with Hood River up 1-19, Hermiston started one of its only runs of the night. The Bulldogs quickly got their second point of the day and then went on a 6-0 run highlighted by back-to-back aces from sophomore Halee Stubbs. The Eagles didn’t take long to bounce back and won the first set on a 5-2 run of their own.
Stubbs led the Hermiston, finishing with five digs and the two aces.
The Bulldogs continued to struggle throughout the night. In the second set, four of its five points were due to Hood River’s errors. However, for the first time of the night Hermiston opened the third set up 2-0. The score remained close, and the two teams traded the lead until the Eagles broke away on a 12-4 run to push their lead to a comfortable 20-10.
Before the final buzzer sounded, sophomore Emma Combes sent a kill zooming across the court for Hermiston’s final point of the match.
Despite this overcome, Dyck is hopeful the girl’s development over the season will soon show.
“Tonight I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we — I don’t know that we necessarily trust that we have done enough,” she said. “I believe we have. I see the growth that they have made over the last couple of months but when you have a young team and have a lot of girls that haven’t been on varsity before it’s a matter of them believing in themselves.
“So I think that keeps us from finding a rhythm because we are constantly questioning ourselves.”
Now, Hermiston will just have to move on, as Dyck said, and get ready for a quick turnaround. The Bulldogs will compete in the Westview Tournament at Westview High School on Saturday, and Dyck hopes this environment will better suit the team.
“Hopefully we can have some back-to-back matches where we don’t have time to think and we just work some stuff out,” she said. “Tournaments seem to be good for us because we have a lot of bounce back and were able to move on quickly. So I’m hopeful that this weekend we can try some different things out and hopefully get through some mental barriers.”
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.