KENNEWICK — Last year, Southridge had its way with Hermiston all four times they played.
The Bulldogs turned that around Thursday night, beating the Suns 25-14, 25-26, 22-25, 25-16 in Mid-Columbia Conference play.
“Today, it finally came full circle,” said Hermiston junior Kendall Dowdy, who finished the night with 17 assists, six kills and nine digs. “We got a taste of victory. It’s the start of a new win streak. This is just the beginning.”
With the win, Hermiston (3-3, 2-3 MCC) is on a three match win streak.
“We are still learning to win,” Bulldogs coach Amy Dyck said. “We have three sophomores who are starters. That focus and confidence to win in three — we are still trying to get there. In the fourth (set) we were dialing it in.”
The Suns won all four matches against the Bulldogs last year, including two in conference play, and two in the MCC-GSL regional tournament. But Southridge (1-5, 1-5 MCC) has just one returning player from last year, and has had its share of growing pains.
“We are very young,” Suns coach Emily Otto said, “but we have a lot of potential. We have shown a lot of growth since the start of the year. They need to trust and believe in themselves, and trust each other.”
Thursday, the Bulldogs quickly took the first two sets, getting solid serving from Halee Stubbs and Emma Combes in the first set, while Grace Vertrees and Kambree Baker combined for 10 points in the second.
The third set wasn’t so pretty for the Bulldogs. Unforced errors accounted for 13 of the Suns 25 points.
Hermiston frittered away a 13-10 lead, and the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 19-14 after Jordan Missett served up four consecutive points.
The Bulldogs got as close as 20-19 and 24-22, but a misplayed ball by Avery Treadwell gave the Suns the win.
There was no doubt who was in charge of the fourth set.
Combes served the first four points of the set, and after the Suns came back to tie the score at 6-6, the Bulldogs pulled away for good.
Vertrees served five points for a 12-6 lead, and a steady stream of unforced errors by the Suns (14 for the set) had Hermiston on top 20-11.
Southridge made a late run with four points to pull within 21-16, but it wasn’t enough.
“Obviously, we are all very competitive,” Dyck said of the two teams. “We had a rough year here last year. I wanted to come in here and win. We put in a lot of work in the summer and it’s paying off.”
Vertrees led the Bulldogs with 10 kills and five aces, while Stubbs had 19 digs. Combes had 12 digs and four aces; Malayna Anderson six kills and three blocks; and Courtnee West 12 assists, eight digs and four kills.
Nicole Parker led the Suns with 10 kills and seven digs. Mattie Stayrook had seven kills, and Missett 22 assists and seven digs.
Stubbs, a senior, was named a Week 3 WIAA Athlete of the Week. The libero had a combined 66 digs in matches against Kennewick, Pasco and Davis. She had 37 digs against Kennewick, and passed a 2.1 average in serve receive.