PILOT ROCK — When the tournament smoke cleared in Pilot Rock, it wasn’t the regular-season titan Weston-McEwen standing above the rest, but the streaking Heppner Mustangs.
The Mustangs (18-11, 9-5 BMC) beat the two top teams in the Blue Mountain Conference District Tournament on Saturday to seize the top seed from the conference heading into the state tournament. Heppner took down Elgin (20-9, 12-2 BMC) in the first game of the day (25-18, 25-15, 26-24) to advance to the championship match where they did the same to the TigerScots (23-7, 13-1 BMC).
Heppner — winners of seven straight matches while moving from district-tournament bubble team to state tournament contender — dethroned the winners of last year’s tournament in four sets 25-21, 18-25, 31-29 and 25-20.
“The last few weeks have been very stressful, trying to prepare for this exact day,” said Carrie Haguewood, Heppner’s senior middle blocker who had 16 kills in the championship match. “We really knew we could get into the playoffs. We just had to believe it.
“Now we know how we can play and we just have to keep playing like that because we’re winning like that.”