In a match that lacked a dominant hitter on either side of the net, The Dalles was able to limit its errors just enough to take a league win away from Pendleton’s Warberg Court on Tuesday.
The Riverhawks swept the Columbia River Conference volleyball match with scores of 25-23, 25-15, 25-21, and scored the final point on one of the Buckaroos’ numerous hitting errors.
“We have a tough time keeping the ball in play when we were able to run an offense tonight, we have a lot of power behind our hits and they’re just kind of flying to the walls,” said Pendleton coach Amanda Lapp.
Pendleton totaled just 12 kills and seven assists as a team, but their hitting issues weren’t the most glaring as numerous times the Buckaroos found themselves running away from the net to track down errant digs and passes.
“To be honest with you I think our passing and our defense was hit and miss tonight,” Lapp said.
Lauren Roberts led Pendleton (2-3, 0-2 CRC) with 16 digs, but they weren’t enough to keep The Dalles (9-1, 2-0) from inching away in each set.
Maddy Bradford led the Riverhawks with 14 kills and Lori Cimmiyotti added 10, but weren’t exactly firing laser shots into Pendleton’s defense, which left the middle of the court vulnerable several times and paid for it dearly.
Riverhawks coach Neticia Fanene said she could tell during warm-ups that it was going to be a struggle all night.
“We did start off a little rough and I can always tell by the way our girls are preparing how it’s going to be,” she said, “and I was like, ‘OK we’re really going to have to work hard if we’re not going to focus right off the bat.’”
Pendleton took advantage of the slow start and built an 8-2 lead in the first set, their largest of the match.
The Bucks’ longest rally after that, however, was three points, and the Riverhawks finally caught them at 19-all when Iliana Telles collected one of her eight kills by firing a hard shot off Pendleton’s block.
Pendleton errors on the next three points gave The Dalles the lead for good, and when the Bucks battled back to make it 24-23, another error gave The Dalles the win.
The second set was all Riverhawks as the Bucks failed to score more than one point when they held serve — by no fault of the servers who were easily Pendleton’s best performers at 97 percent in the match — but the third set was much more competitive.
The match was tied 21-all before The Dalles rattled off the final four points on a double hit by PHS, a kill by Bradford, a PHS defensive error and finally a PHS hitting error.
Despite going down in straight sets, Lapp said the action on the court should have shown the Bucks just how close they were to turning the match in their favor.
“It shows them that we didn’t have a clean match but we have just those little things to work on, those extra steps to take — the extra degree that they have to have for them to be able to push ahead and stay ahead for an entire match,” she said.
With eight matches left for each team on the CRC slate, both coaches agreed it’s much to early to name a front-runner.
“I think that everybody is a contender and so it’s not going to be one given team,” Fanene said. “I think its anybody’s game any given day.”
“I think every match is going to go down to the wire and every set of every match is going to go down to the wire,” Lapp agreed. “I say hang in the fight. If you’re going to go down, hang in the fight.”
Pendleton will try for its first CRC win of the season on Thursday when it hosts Hermiston (3-4, 0-2) at 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs lost in four sets to Hood River Valley (3-1, 2-0) on Tuesday.
Contact Matt Entrup at email@example.com or (541) 966-0838.