DUFUR – Playing in front of a capacity crowd in Dufur, the Lady Rangers and the Sherman Huskies played a playoff-caliber match where two points separated all three sets.
In the end, Dufur was able to make the plays down the stretch to capture a three-game sweep.
The Rangers faced match point in the opening game, trailed 17-13 at one point in the second and fell behind by scores of 5-1, 14-4 and 20-14 in the third game only to pick up the pieces to get three victories.
“I really learned that we all have the heart to play,” said Dufur junior Chloe Beeson. “Once we actually come together as a team, we will accomplish great things. There are times that we let the other team get ahead, but we have the ability to battle back and fight the whole time. I don’t think we are ever out of any match. It is about learning from our mistakes, correcting them and pushing through.”
Down by a 26-25 score in the first set, Beeson slammed down a kill to tie the score, and then a Sherman miscue followed by another kill by Beeson gave Dufur a 28-26 win and a 1-0 lead in the match.
With the Rangers looking at a 17-13 deficit in the second game, they stormed back for a 10-1 run to lead 23-18.
Kills by Sherman’s Taylor Henderson, Jaelyn Justesen and then Henderson again brought the Huskies even at 23-all.
However, a long serve out and then a net violation on successive points gave Dufur a 25-23 triumph and a 2-0 cushion in the match.
Sherman looked to be extending this match into a fourth set at the start of third, as Henderson whistled home two straight aces to give her team a 14-4 lead.
Sammie Lepinski added a kill to move the Huskies in front, 16-8, and with the score 18-14, Justesen dropped a kill for a 19-14 Husky lead.
Down 20-18, Kalie Ellis scored back-to-back service aces and Sydney Reed and Haili Wolf-DePriest capped a 9-1 rally with a kill apiece to give the Rangers a 23-21 advantage.
Sherman tied the score at 23-all on two Dufur errors, and Henderson hammered down an ace to put the Huskies at game point, ahead 24-23.
The next serve sailed long, Sherman had a hitting error and Beeson capped the game with a stuffed block to end the match, as the final score read 26-24.
“I am very proud of this team,” said Sherman senior Emily Hill. “We have all been working hard together and we definitely have improved a lot since the beginning of the season. We have a young team, so it is kind of hard with the younger kids that are here, but they have stepped it up in practice and have tried really hard. I really think we are starting to come together a lot. That will help us get to where we want to go.”
Beeson had a season-high 19 kills and two blocks, Alexus Outlaw had four kills and two digs, Ellis finished with four aces, Sydnee byers went for six aces and a dig, and Sydney Reed had three kills, an ace, a dig and 19 assists.
“As we go along into the season, the matches should be getting tougher,” said Dufur coach Jody Weaver. “We need to take what we do every day, learn from it and see where we end up. As long as we work on those areas of need, we will strengthen for next time until we find new holes to work on and try to fill those holes every time we play.”
The loss ends Sherman’s two-match winning streak, where they swept past Mitchell-Spray and Lyle.
Tuesday’s performance gave the young Huskies a glimpse at what they can do once all of the cylinders are hitting.
Given its roster of seven sophomores, a freshman and four seniors, there will be some peaks and valleys.
“We need to work on communication. I think that definitely eases all of the problems in volleyball. I think it will be easier on them if they talked a little bit more,” said Sherman coach Amy Huffman. “And we need to keep making those little changes that keep us from winning, like staying mentally strong, getting our serves in, getting our serves in on game point, I mean that is a huge thing. And so those little changes are key for us. We are at the point in the season where if we really want to have a winning season, it needs to happen now.”
Dufur (4-5 overall, 3-0 league) is at Ione for a league match at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Sherman (2-4, 1-2) hosts Arlington at 5 p.m. Thursday.