Tuesday night in Warberg Court, Buckaroo fans were littered throughout the stands, chomping down on their popcorn and hotdogs as hip-hop music blared from the speakers. Players yelled and cheered on teammates while students chanted their support.
It was time for another season of Pendleton Lady Bucks volleyball.
After splitting the first two road games of the season, the Lady Bucks hosted the La Grande Tigers for the 2015 home opener. And after what became a very even matchup, the Lady Bucks prevailed in the end, holding off the Tigers for a 3-2 win.
“They’re super psyched about the home win,” said coach Amanda Lapp. “We have a bunch of young players out there, and I think the older ones are excited for the younger ones, and younger ones are just as excited to be in the moment and play on this court.”
The Lady Bucks (2-1) had a good turnout of fellow students at the game, enough to fill an entire section of bleachers opposite the team benches. The group stayed till the end, which is something Lapp believes helped push her team to victory.
“That was the one thing the team mentioned after the game was that all the fans and students stayed till the end and they loved it,” she said. “They gave (the team) a big help pushing them along throughout the match.”
Neither team was really able to keep ahold of the momentum in the match, as it was very back-and-forth throughout the entire night.
In the first set, Pendleton was able to jump out to a 12-8 lead to force the Tigers to call a timeout. From that point on, the Lady Bucks controlled the tempo the rest of the way to hammer out a 25-18 victory.
But in the second set a rotational error by the Lady Bucks cost them the momentum. At the time, the Lady Bucks were in front 6-1 before the officials called the penalty, sending the serve and the momentum over to the Tigers.
La Grande (1-3) jumped on the opportunity and took nine of the next 12 points to take an 11-8 lead and forcing a timeout by the Lady Bucks. That mistake proved to be crucial as the Tigers kept control the rest of the way and took the second set 25-19.
The two teams followed up by splitting the third and fourth sets respectively, with Pendleton taking the third set 25-17 and La Grande holding on for a 25-21 win in the fourth set.
Lapp was not surprised to see the match go the way it did.
“I didn’t really know what to expect from La Grande,” she said. “But I knew us coming in as such a young team, it puts a little spin on things. La Grande’s usually a strong team so I was just hoping we could come through in the end.”
The Lady Bucks came out in that fifth set determined and clawed their way to a 10-8 lead before the Tigers wanted to regroup and called timeout. It gave Lapp some time to retierate what she has preached to her team all season.
“I was telling them to just keep playing their game the way they know how and stay motivated,” she said. “Every single point matters in the fifth set.”
Following the timeout, the Lady Bucks kept the momentum to hold off the Tigers 15-10 for the set win and the match victory.
Junior Haley Greb and freshman Elli Nirschl led the Lady Bucks with seven kills apiece in the match. It was a good serving night for the Lady Bucks as well, as they were successful on 97 percent of their serves.
Overall it was a gritty performance from the young Lady Bucks.
“What I love about this team is that they will perservere through everything,” Lapp said of the win. “They were able to get back the momentum in the fifth set, and it was nice to see them take that uphill climb at the end when they’re all tired.”
The Lady Bucks will be back on the court Sept. 15, as they travel to Hood River for their first league match of the season at 6:30 p.m.