BOARDMAN — It took a bit for Heppner and Riverside to shake off the rust, but once they did volleyball was back in full swing Thursday night.
The Mustangs (1-0) dropped the first set, but rallied to win the next three for a 15-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-20 nonleague win over the Pirates.
“We are rusty,” Heppner coach Mindy Wilson said. “We have some big spots to fill, and we are trying to see who will fill them, and who will work best in what scenario.”
Junior outside hitter Sydney Wilson led the Mustangs with 10 kills and 21 digs.
“We struggled a little bit, we we came together as a team and got in the groove,” Wilson said. “It’s exciting to step up, be a leader and get the girls ready on the court.”
The Pirates (0-1), who trailed 6-0 and 8-3 in the first set before pulling out the win, lost setter Alexis Villegas to a knee injury in the second set while holding a 13-12 lead.
“She is my starting setter and runs the offense,” Riverside coach Marie Cain said. “The girls did well with a curveball thrown at them. They did their best out there. We had too many unforced errors; we hurt ourselves.”
Heppner lost its lead in the first set because of unforced errors. The Mustangs had 18 in the set, including four missed serves.
Once Villegas went down in the second set, the Mustangs tied the score at 13-13. The teams traded leads until an ace serve by Kennisyn Wilkins gave Heppner the lead for good.
Tied at one set apiece, the teams were tied eight times in the third set before Genevieve Smith reeled off three points for a 12-9 Heppner lead. The Mustangs slowly pulled away for the win, including three ace serves down the stretch.
Heppner led from start to finish in the fourth set. The Pirates were within two points early, and made a run toward the end to pull within 21-20, but Wilson served the final three points, including an ace on match point, to close out the match.
“The effort was there,” Coach Wilson said. “They were all over the floor and never quit.”
Nicole Propheter added three kills and seven digs for Heppner, while Smith handed out 10 assists, and Marlee Mitchell seven. The Mustangs had eight ace serves as a team.
The Pirates got 11 kills from senior outside hitter Delmy Barerra, 16 digs from Lily Rockwell, three aces from Lesly Anzora, and six kills and three blocks from 6-foot senior middle Megan Hegar.
“We aren’t used to seeing girls that big,” Sydney Wilson said of Hegar. “We were able to fight through it.”