HERMISTON - Mykael Bothum was all smiles Tuesday after her Bulldogs knocked off Pendleton in an Intermountain Conference volleyball match.
That's because the senior had never recorded a volleyball win against Pendleton while on the varsity squad, until Tuesday's 25-19, 25-19, 14-25, 25-23 victory.
"They're a great team. Knowing that we have the ability to beat the better teams in the league, I think will get us going," said Bothum, who played varsity volleyball as a sophomore.
Bothum smacked a game-high 16 kills and matched teammate Brittany Wilson with a perfect 22 of 22 on serve-receive.
"She got us fired up and hits the ball as hard as anybody that you're going to see in high school volleyball," Hermiston coach Kay Edwards said of Bothum. "She is tough to stop."
The win moved Hermiston into a tie with Pendleton at 4-3 in the IMC standings.
"We have a habit of starting slow and that was part of what got us," Pendleton coach Dave Baty said. "Hermiston has a good team, and when they rattle, they don't rattle much."
Coach Edwards felt the Bulldogs' defense - led by Amanda Douglas' 26 digs - was the difference.
"One of the keys that we have talked about is our defensive effort, and I thought we played fantastic defense," Edwards said. "We passed the ball around well, and when we do that, we have offensive weapons that can score."
Caitlin Cozad had five of her 14 kills in the fourth game and sealed the match with a tip shot that found the floor.
"This is our house, and we wanted to get this win," Cozad said. "This feels so awesome."
"She plays a lot of ball over the summer with my daughter (Jessica) and it's no surprise; she is a great player," Baty said. "We thought we could get a few more blocks on her, but Caitlin got the job done."
With Hermiston up 16-14 in the second game, Bothum took over, drilling four of her six kills down the stretch run in the game that was capped by a Cozad kill and block.
"When she is on, look out," said Cozad of Bothum. "She hits the ball hard and played a great match."
Pendleton responded in the third game, leading from wire-to-wire after it appeared Hermiston was headed for a sweep.
"I told the girls after the second game, 'your back is against the wall,' " coach Baty said. "The girls responded and I am very proud of them for that."
Pendleton built a 6-1 lead in the third game and Mackenzie Larson had two blocks and two kills in the game to extend the match.
"Momentum is huge in every sport, and we've come out very slow for some reason. We need to stop doing that," Larson said. "I think because we started out with a bang in the third game, we just rolled with it."
Pendleton's momentum carried over to the fourth game with an early 6-3 lead, but Hermiston evened the game at 15 behind Cozad.
Out of a Pendleton time out, Jessica Baty helped Pendleton build a 17-15 lead with a kill and a service winner, but Bothum followed with a kill and Cozad accounted for five points down the stretch run.
"Caitlin is so unbelievable and is so strong across the net," Bothum said. "Nobody can dig up what she hits across the net."
Jessica Baty led the Buckaroos with nine kills and had three aces. Larson added eight kills.
"I think as a team, we just need to come together and play like we do in practice," Larson said.