UMATILLA — The Vikings kept things close for two sets, but were no match for Haley White’s attack.
The Irrigon senior outside hitter had 11 kills en route to a three-set victory in which the visiting Knights took down Umatilla 25-16, 25-15, and 25-5 on Tuesday.
“We started off a little rocky,” Irrigon head coach Vanessa Pacheco said. “We weren’t quite awake in the first two sets.”
The Vikings held a brief lead to open the first set until junior libero Makenna Collins’ ace locked them in a 2-2 tie. The Knights took brief advantages until unforced Umatilla errors and a kill from White helped Irrigon to a five-point lead from which they never looked back.
Vikings freshman outside hitter Kyleigh Wheeler ended the set with a failed dig that handed the set to the Knights, 25-16.
White kicked off the following set with a kill that temporarily put Irrigon out front. An unforced error from Umatilla sophomore outside hitter Danica Hartsteen broke a 4-4 tie to put Irrigon back in control. Collins also had an ace that broke a 7-7 tie to keep the Knights alive.
Umatilla took a brief 9-8 lead after Irrigon middle blocker Alyssa Luna’s return landed out of bounds, but the Knights were quick to course correct.
Irrigon rallied off five straight points, effectively ending a 9-9 tie and taking the lead for good. White added three more kills for the set to force a Vikings timeout.
“We played great for the first set and a half,” Umatilla head coach Desirae Zamudio said, “but then we fell apart. We have some work to do tomorrow (at practice).”
After the break, White sent another kill onto the Vikings’ side of the court that pushed the Knights to a 10-point, 24-14 lead.
“We definitely struggled in the first set,” White said, “but we finally got going, and everyone came alive. Once we got our momentum and found our chemistry, we just kept going.”
Irrigon senior middle blocker Tatum Allen got the final point to claim the set.
“Irrigon has about three really solid players,” Zamudio said. “They hustle. They’re just great athletes.”
Irrigon rallied off four unanswered points to open the final set, and another ace from Collins gave them a 7-1 advantage and was followed by a Vikings timeout.
The Vikings handed Irrigon three straights points from out-of-bounds returns that put the Knights up 22-5. An unforced error from Umatilla senior right side hitter Thaily Barajas gave Irrigon another point.
Umatilla failed to return the ball when they were down 24-5, handing Irrigon the set and the match.
“Everyone worked together and started communicating,” Pacheco said. “The hitters were finally hitting and the serves were all in.”
Luna followed White in the attack zone with seven kills for the Knights. Collins and junior setter Emma Mueller each finished with seven aces. Collins also chipped in eight saves, and Mueller had 29 assists.
“Umatilla never gave up,” White said. “Props to their girls for staying in the game with a positive attitude.”
With the home victory in tow, Irrigon (10-6, 2-0 EOL) remains undefeated in the Eastern Oregon League, and will travel to La Grande on Thursday for a nonleague matchup. Umatilla (0-11, 0-2 EOL) travels to Riverside on Thursday for another conference contest.