Bulldogs return to final site after 10-year hiatus

<p>Hermiston’s Jeni Hoffert (13) and Crystal Schmidt try to block a Wilson attack during an Oregon high school Class 5A playoff volleyball match Saturday in Hermiston. Hermiston won 3-0.</p>

For the first time in 10 years, a Hermiston volleyball team will play at the state final site.

A straight-set victory against the Wilson Trojans, champs of the Portland Interscholastic League, punched the Dawgs ticket to the Class 5A quarterfinals Friday at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

Set scores were 25-19, 25-23, 25-18.

Hermiston will play at either 1:15 or 3:15 p.m. in its quarterfinal match Friday.

The Dawgs were definitely tested by a well-rounded Wilson squad, but the depth in the attack was what eventually won it for them.

With leading attacker Crystal Schmidt not recording any kills in the second set, Cheyanne Lawson and Gracie Flyg answered the call and provided six between the two of them to keep the Dawgs in it.

Lawson was able to pull the Dawgs within two points, 18-16, with a nifty cut shot that seemed to energize the team. She also slammed a kill to bring set point for Hermiston, then Flyg finish off the set with a kill to steal it.

“If we would have lost that second set, the rest of the match might have gone (Wilson’s) way,” Flyg said. “But we feel pretty good right now. There are some things we definitely need to tune up at practice.”

Lawson and Flyg both ended the night with 10 kills while Schmidt finished with eight, and head coach Becky Wadekamper couldn’t get the smile off her face when talking about how Lawson and Flyg performed.

“We played very well,” she said. “Cheyanne was awesome for us. She did a great job of mixing up her attacks. Gracie put some shots down on the line as well.”

From an overall team perspective, the Dawgs played a much better match Saturday than they did in their first playoff game against Milwaukie. The timing in the attack was there and defensively they covered the court better.

Also, the serving of the Dawgs was on point and was a key factor in keeping the ball off the net for Wilson to attack. Along with defending like they did against the Trojans, Wadekamper said that’s going to be imperative for the Dawgs to do if they want to succeed at the tournament.

“We’re a multiple-weapon offense and took their middle out of the game,” Wadekamper said. “I think we’re peaking at a real good time. We need to serve tough and block tough.”

Along with making it to the final site for the first time in 10 years, the Hermiston volleyball program has never won a trophy at state competition.

All it takes now is one win at Liberty High School to change that, and both Flyg and Wadekamper said they have the big one on their mind.

“We want to go down there and win,” Flyg said. “We’re not done yet.”

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