Wednesday, Oct. 10's volleyball game was an up and down affair for the Hood River Valley Eagles.
When they were up, they were really up, crashing the net and punishing Parkrose with well-timed blocks and lightning-quick kills.
When they were down, they often had trouble picking themselves back up, and almost allowed the Broncos to steal the match.
But the Eagles weren't about to let Parkrose come into their gym and push them around, rallying late in game three to win the match by the slimmest of margins -- 15-10, 14-16, and 15-12.
"My overall impression of the match was that we played to the level of our competition, something we’ve had problems with at tournaments this year," coach Tracy Norton said. "I believe we're stronger than Parkrose, and we almost blew it."
It may not have been pretty at times, but the Eagles dug deep in all three games to scrap out the victory. All three games included huge comebacks -- two by Hood River -- but the third almost ended in disaster, as the Eagles allowed the Broncos to come back from a 12-1 deficit to close within 14-12.
With the momentum squarely in Parkrose's favor, HRV took a timeout to regain its poise, and earned a hard-fought sideout on one of many powerful kills by Stephanie Halici.
The always reliable Meghan Flink served the ball into play and the Eagles earned that elusive final point just in the nick of time when Tara Level sent a wicked knuckleball into no-man's land to secure the victory.
HRV might not have had the chance to win, let alone compete, in a third and deciding game if it weren’t for the passing and hustle of Level, Flink, Leanne Brophy and Kara Herman, and the strong net play of Halici, Lindsey Sanguras and Lesley Betts.
The Eagles stepped up time and again when the chips were down to emerge victorious, both in game one and game three. They also forged a comeback in game two, but let it slip away at the end.
The first two games were very up and down for the Eagles, as they got down 7-0 in game one and 9-1 in game two. But on both occasions, something seemed to click once Sanguras stepped up to serve.
Sanguras, who served 18 for 18 on the night with four aces, led a rally of seven straight points in game one and eight straight in game two to get HRV back into the match. During both rallies, Halici and Betts were overpowering at the net, each connecting on a series of kills, and combining to block numerous Parkrose shots.
Herman also stepped up her game during the comeback efforts by setting up shots and diving all over the court to dig the ball.
"Kara made some strong sets in the middle at key points during the match, and Lesley and Stephanie both took advantage of their quickness to put several balls away for kills," Norton said.
Flink was her usual consistent self, helping the team out of trouble with well-placed serves, acrobatic digs and on-the-mark passes. Level also spurred a few rallies with aggressive defense, anticipating where the ball would go, and hitting the floor to save it.
Defensive and serving specialist Elizabeth Acevedo also did her job, offering up low-flying bullets that Parkrose couldn’t react to, including an ace for the final point in game one.
Leanne Brophy, who earned a spot in the starting rotation as the season has progressed, showed off her hustle on numerous defensive plays and passing sequences to keep HRV on a roll.
Overall, Norton was happy with the win, but would like to see her team improve its serve-receive in the season's final five games.
"I felt our serve receive was by far our weakest aspect of the game," she said. "When we passed well, we had strong sets and were able to put the ball away on the opposite side.
"If we passed poorly, we ended up giving the other team a free shot at us. Serve-receive has been our nemesis the past three games."
HRV will looked to continue its late-season ascent against hard-hitting Barlow Tuesday and a Reynolds/David Douglas three-way on Thursday.