IRRIGON — The TigerScot girls flexed their roars in celebration after downing Grant Union in extra points to clinch a match Saturday. The four volleyball sets had been hotly contested, but none so even as the final that swung Weston-McEwen’s way 26-24 when the TigerScots needed three stright points to fend off defeat.
It was an emotional high for the girls, coach Shawn White said. But they’d need to refuel fast with Irrigon right around the corner.
“Typically, life is like this,” said White, moving his hand up and down like a boat caught adrift in rough seas. “That’s the challenge here.”
The TigerScots came out with a bit of a Prospector hangover against Irrigon. Some holdover adrenaline pumping, Weston-McEwen scored eight of the first nine points to spot themselves a huge lead before the crash. The Knights surged, soon leading by as much as 19-14.
A few late timeouts gave the TigerScots shots to get grounded and dig their heels in for the final push before taking the set 25-23.
Weston-McEwen (11-3, 4-0 BMC) would have much less trouble in the next two sets, sweeping the match 25-18 and 25-17 and handing Irrigon (5-5, 2-3 BMC) its second loss of the day.
“It’s definitely tough for us playing a hard team like Grant Union and having to come out and refocus but we always seem to pull through and do what we need to do as a team,” junior setter Taryn Coffman said.
Once the TigerScots got their engines warmed for the second time, Coffman was at the center of it all. She had 22 assists in the three-set match, setting up big hitters on both sides. Keegan Shepard and Molly von Borstel both finished with 10 kills, tops for the match on either side.
The attackers likely would have had more if Irrigon’s Alicia Martin had taken a few plays off. The senior libero dug out 17 balls while throwing her body all around the court.
“You kind of have to know you can get the ball,” Martin said. “You can’t have it in your mind that they’re just going to kill it on me all the time. It’s about believing in yourself.”
Jessica Lang and Morgan Immoos were also busy digging out spikes. Each girl topped 15 digs in the match.
When Irrigon was on, it started from the back line, coach Blain Ganvoa said. The reason the Knights climbed ahead in the first set against Weston-McEwen involved eight straight blistering serves from specialist Nathalie Campos. The senior served up five unreturnable balls in six serves, including two aces.
She would finish 17 of 18 serving.
“Everything comes off of serving,” Ganvoa said. “If we’re serving well we seem to be passing well and consequently you end up putting yourself in position to get more swings, and that just generates good defense, which turns into good defense.”
WESTON-McEWEN 3, GRANT UNION 1 — Back to the earlier match of the day Saturday, the TigerScots ran into their toughest league opponent of the short season so far in Grant Union (8-3, 3-2 BMC).
The two teams match up well, coach White said, especially after they each settled into the meeting following slow starts.
“They’re a good team with three hitters that really control the ball well and put pressure on you constantly,” he said. “I was really pleased that once both teams handled the initial stage of the dropsies...just the errors, we started to play some pretty good volleyball.”
Weston-McEwen won the match 25-18, 22-25, 25-21 and 26-24.
Coffman again had a huge showing while spreading the ball around for 40 assists. Von Borstel led the team with 19 kills and 23 digs while McKayla Carlin added 20 more digs. Danni Dearing was a perfect 27 of 27 from the service line.
The pair of wins Saturday, coupled with the first conference loss of the season by Heppner against Union, elevated the TigerScots to sole possession of first in place in the Blue Mountain Conference. Weston-McEwen is now 11-3 overall and 4-0 against league foes, the only undefeated team left in the BMC.
They may also have one of the youngest lineups with Carlin the only senior on this year’s team.
GRANT UNION 3, IRRIGON 0 — In the earliest match Saturday, the Knights were knocked out by the Prospectors in straight sets 25-22, 25-16 and 25-17.
Irrigon hung with Grant Union in the early going before the mistakes started to pile up. The Knights struggled to put together long stretches of competitive play, coach Ganvoa said.
“We have those moments where we’re gaining the momentum and we’re being challenging to those teams,” he said. “What I spoke to the girls about was we really need to cut back on the amount of unforced errors, because those are coming at times when we’re breaking our own momentum.”
Saturday capped a gauntlet of a week for Irrigon, which battled the three top teams in the Blue Mountain Conference. Three straight losses without picking up a set victory leaves the Knights reeling after beating their first two league opponents the week before.
While most would see that as a downward trajectory, setter Martin said she knows this week has been a learning experience for her team. The Knights know where the bar is at the top of their conference now.
“We have room to grow. We know we’re a good team,” she said. “We’re pretty good right now, pushing teams that we’ve never been able to compete with to have to compete back with us.”
Irrigon is now in sixth in the league standings.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.