HELIX — Danielle Baleztena’s first-ever high school volleyball match as a coach was a resounding success Thursday night as Pilot Rock opened its preseason with a five-set victory over the host Helix Grizzlies.

The visiting Rockets dropped the first set 25-19, but came back to take the next two 25-22 and 25-21. After a 25-13 loss, the Rockets rallied back with a 15-12 fifth-set win to claim the match.

“We have some things to work on, but overall, the girls did really well tonight,” Baleztena said. “They kept their heads in it and stayed working as a team. They prevailed and came out on top. Lillie Brewer had so many kills tonight. She was amazing at the net.”

Team captain Kyleen Stahancyk led the Grizzlies with eight aces. Lexie Mize totaled 10 kills and six aces, and Ellie Reeder made her Helix volleyball debut with 18 assists and two aces.

“For a first match, I was very happy with our effort and hustle,” Helix coach Caitlin Steele said. “Some skill, position work, and fundamentals still need some polish, but overall I could not be more pleased with how the girls played.”

Pilot Rock (1-0) hosts Imbler on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Helix (0-1) will entertain Stanfield and South Wasco County for a Saturday tournament starting at 10 a.m.

ECHO DROPS ONE, WINS ONE IN SEASON PREVIEW

MOLALLA — Although the Echo Cougars were no match for Perrydale, who defeated them in sets of 25-22, 25-10, 25-4 in the first day of the Country Christian-hosted season preview, they managed to come back to topple Joseph in five sets.

The Cougars took the first two sets over Joseph 25-20 and 25-17, but lost the following two, 25-21 and 28-26. It all came down to the final set, with Echo posting a 17-15 win.

“It was nerves,” head coach Janice Scott said of the opener. “They were like deer in the headlights. They just weren’t meshing yet. But we were evenly matched (with Joseph). We were a lot better defensively. It was just a good match.”

The Cougars move forward in the tournament with matches against Crane, Country Christian and Days Creek today.

WESTON-MCEWEN SWEEPS SEASON OPENER

ATHENA — The TigerScots rang in the season with a pair of home shutouts. The first team caught in their path was Dufur, which Weston-McEwen took down in sets of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-7.

“It came close at times,” head coach Shawn White said, “but the girls did a nice job controlling what was going on.”

The TigerScots rounded things out with another 3-0 win over Imbler, who fell to Weston-McEwen in 25-19, 25-11, 25-18 sets.

“They were both teams that played solid defense,” White said. “They’ve got some hitters that take good swings at the ball. The sets were all competitive as they went along.”

Designated setter Carrie Hazen led the team with eight aces for the day. The junior also tallied 14 digs. Charli King notched a combined 22 assists and three aces, Trinity Hearn finished with 11 kills and seven aces, and libero Emma Olson recorded a total of 27 digs and four aces for the day. Jesse Manning led the team in digs with 10. She also posted 17 kills and a pair of aces.

Next up, the TigerScots will travel to Prairie City for the Grant Union Tournament on Saturday.

MAC-HI DROPS THREE MATCHES

MILTON-FREEWATER — The host Pioneers had a busy night on the court with a trio of nonleague matches.

Mac-Hi dropped a 25-12, 20-25, 15-8 match to Enterprise, followed by a 25-22, 25-20 loss to Elgin, and a 25-16, 25-18 loss to Wallowa.

The Pioneers also played Umatilla, but scores were not available.

“There was a strong showing from Sydney Dibble, Abby Richwine and Darby Rhodes,” Mac-Hi coach Lucy Deal said. “This team is continuing to learn to play as one cohesive unit, and we found some of our short comings along with some of our strengths. We will continue to grow and learn. I’m proud of these girls from where they have come and know what they are capable of.”

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