Opening-night jitters got the best of the Hermiston Bulldogs during their first match in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
Sophia Sumner had seven kills and 11 digs as Southridge rolled to a 25-18, 25-20, 25-14 victory Tuesday at Hermiston High School.
“Getting the first match out of the way was big,” Hermiston coach Amy Dyck said. “Coming into a league where the girls play club and all year around, we don’t do that. We have three-sport athletes. We made some errors that give us an idea of what we need to work on.”
The Bulldogs (0-1) will have the night to sleep on it, then they are back in action Wednesday at Chiawana High School in Pasco.
“Hopefully, Chiawana will force us to step up our game,” Dyck said.
Hermiston likely will play the match without senior outside hitter Scout Reagan, who turned her ankle in the first set Tuesday against the Suns.
“They told me she could play, but I think I will hold her out and play her Saturday against Pasco,” Dyck said.
Hermiston and Southridge both committed a considerable number of unforced errors in the match. The Bulldogs had a staggering 15 in the first set alone — six on missed serves.
“We struggled with some nerves tonight,” Dyck said. “I think that nervousness fed into some of the basic skills we would have nailed.”
The Bulldogs were in the thick of things in the first set, tied at 12 at one point, but the Suns pulled away with a long service run by Sumner.
Serving woes hampered the Bulldogs in the second set as Kendall Dowdy, Emma Combes and Halee Stubbs all sailed their first serves out of play.
Southridge went on a scoring spree with Jordann Missett at the service line, taking an 11-3 lead. Hermiston worked its way back into the set, pulling within 22-20 behind four consecutive service points by Haylee Hamilton, including two aces.
But three consecutive unforced errors gave the Suns the win.
The Bulldogs put up a fight in the third, trailing just 9-7 with a pair of Southridge unforced errors. Then the bottom fell out.
Missett reeled off six consecutive points and the rout was on.
“Our setter Courtnee West played out of her mind,” Dyck said. “She battled through, served well and distributed the ball well.”
Combes led the Bulldogs with four kills and 11 digs.
Kate Ellsworth added five kills and Ashlyn Dupuis four kills for Southridge to give first-year coach Emily Otto her first league win.
“We have been working on our mental game,” Otto said. “They have gotten so much tougher mentally. It was fun for me to watch them tonight. They had energy on the court. We have six returning varsity players who have played together for four years. This is the best I have seen them play together. I am proud of them.”