It was a quick but close game Tuesday night that resulted in a home win for Pendleton against the Redmond Panthers.
The Lady Bucks won in three sets — 25-16, 25-23, and 25-13.
As the first set progressed, Pendleton struggled to keep the ball in-bounds. Redmond outside hitter Grace Rawlins’ sharp eye let Pendleton’s ball fall out of bounds and gave Redmond a short-lived lead. The Panthers seemed to be firing on all cylinders, with Rawlins serving strong and middle blocker Ava Kitchin blocking several Pendleton spikes.
The Bucks stepped up to the challenge soon enough, taking over the lead after an ace from setter Ellen Nirschi and scores from defensive specialist Aspen Garton. However, it was Redmond that cost themselves the set after right side hitter Karlyn Breitbach’s ball hit the net, and went out of bounds on the next play. The first set ended with the Bucks up by nine points.
The second set was a nail-biter. Each team took turns scoring one after another, and the set continued with either team within one point of tying each other. Libero Kirah McGlothan landed two back-to-back aces to give Pendleton the second set victory.
It was a strong night for McGlothan, who finished with three aces and five digs.
“We’ve been working on our serves this year,” said Pendleton coach Amanda Lapp. “Kirah has a tough serve that really got us through tonight.”
Although Redmond managed a three-point lead to start the third set, their sputtering offense couldn’t maintain it: right side hitter Kinzie Dixon’s spike hit the net, middle blocker Ava Kitchin sent the ball out of bounds two plays in a row, and libero Abby Fabbrini suffered a critical knee injury after diving for a ball sent over the net by Nirschi, aggravating a pre-existing injury, and benching her for the remainder of the game.
Fabbrini had been dealing with meniscus issues going into the season — her fall on Pendleton’s court only made it worse.
“It definitely rattled us a bit,” Panthers coach Aaron Mallory said of the injury. “We have to make sure we take care of business and recover fast.”
Redmond couldn’t recover Tuesday night, however — after Rawlins served the ball into the net, setter Jessalyn Loza hit it out of bounds and a set-ending score from Bucks outside hitter Elizabeth House, Pendleton claimed victory.
“It was a well-fought game,” Lapp said. “We did much better at earning and executing our points this time around.”
Pendleton had just come off a loss against La Grande last week. This marks their second win of the season, now standing with a 2-3 record. They will host The Dalles next Tuesday.