HERMISTON — Hermiston played in bursts of greatness, but it was not enough to top the consistency of Kamiakin.
On Thursday night, the visiting Braves (4-3, 4-3 MCC) handed the Dawgs a four-set loss in Mid-Columbia Conference volleyball action, taking them down 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, and 25-14.
“They’re a smooth team,” Hermiston coach Amy Dyck said of Kamiakin. “They run a very straightforward, disciplined system that gives them the opportunity to be consistent.”
The Braves posted three straight points to open the first set before Hermiston got on the board. The score would knot twice, Kamiakin would stay at least two points ahead for the bulk of the set. They took a five-point lead on junior middle blocker Maysen Chelin’s kill for an 11-6 set, but Hermiston senior defensive specialist Emma Combes slammed a deep kill that got the Dawgs scoring again.
The Braves later took a 10-point advantage from junior right side hitter Malia Shymanski’s ace, but Combes responded with one of her own. The Bulldogs would pull within seven points, but the Braves rattled off three more points to take the set. Senior outside hitter Delaney Frame got the match point.
“We wanted to come out, run our system, and play volleyball like we do,” Dyck said, “but we never got that rhythm.”
Hermiston would come within four points of taking over twice in the second set, including an ace and an additional point from Combes to bring the score to 21-19 to force a Kamiakin timeout.
After the break, senior libero Halee Stubbs gave Hermiston two more points for a 23-22 set, but sophomore outside hitter Grace Vertrees hit a return that fell out of bounds, handing the Braves another win.
“Their offense is crazy,” Combes said. “They know how to place a ball.”
The Dawgs kicked into high gear in set three, battling back from an early 3-0 deficit, and would not let the Braves out of sight.
Combes helped the Dawgs to its first lead of the night, breaking a 3-3 tie, and although the Braves tied the score 10 times throughout the set, there was no overtaking Hermiston.
Vertrees notched two back-to-back points for a 16-14 lead and another Kamiakin timeout. Later on, junior setter Kendall Dowdy scored two unanswered points to bring the score to 23-19 in Hermiston’s favor, and senior outside hitter Daisy Maddox put the set away.
It would be the last time Hermiston stayed in control.
“We came in waves,” said Combes, who finished the night with a trio of aces and 14 digs. “We would play hard, and then let (Kamiakin) go on a roll.”
The Braves took a 4-0 lead to start the final set, and quickly extended it to a 10-point, 15-5 lead after Vertrees had an unforced error. Frame scored an ace, and Vertrees sent a return out of bounds to finish the match.
“It takes a team to play volleyball,” Combes said. “We didn’t play the game we usually do. We just weren’t prepared tonight.”
Vertrees led the Bulldogs’ offense with 11 kills. Stubbs had a team-high 15 digs, and Vertrees added 13.
Hermiston (3-5, 2-5 MCC) hosts Hanford on Tuesday.