BEND — The road to respectability is proving to be a long, arduous one for the Hood River Valley volleyball team.
After taking a couple games early in the season against Redmond and Summit, the Eagles have dropped 12 straight sets — most recently losing 3-0 to both Bend and Mountain View last Friday.
“We have had some off games lately, but you just have to stay with it,” said junior setter Meghan Flink, who is the only player on the team with more than one year of varsity experience.
“I think our effort has improved each time out,” she said, “and when you work hard, good things are going to happen. But we still have some catching up to do.”
The Intermountain Conference is one of the toughest leagues in the state, with Crook County and Mountain View on the cusp of the state’s top 10, and Hermiston and Pendleton not far behind.
However, the HRV players believe they are right there with the IMC’s second tier, and they are confident they can break the 0-9 slide over the last five matches.
“We weren’t really playing like ourselves on Friday,” said senior Danielle Bohn. “We played Mountain View a lot tougher at home, and I think we will take at least a game from Bend when they come here.”
Friday’s scores were 25-13, 25-12, 25-15 against the Lava Bears and 25-14, 25-9, 25-15 against the Cougars. But the Eagles don’t put much stock into the scores. The players believe that if they can establish some momentum, things will be different.
“It can be hard to find a rhythm on the road,” Bohn said. “We just need to get the ball rolling in the right direction (against Bend) and gain the momentum early.”
Bend did just that in games one and two last Friday, pouncing on a bevy of unforced errors by the Eagles. But game three was more back-and-forth, with HRV staying right with the Bears until midway through.
“Playing Bend on our home court may be our best chance to get a win,” Flink said. “We missed our chance against Summit, and probably should have beaten them at least once. And we finish with four straight home games, which should help our confidence.”
HRV travels to Hermiston on Thursday, and then finishes the IMC season with home matches against Pendleton (Oct. 14), Redmond (Oct. 17), Crook County (Oct. 17) and Bend (Oct. 18).
“We really want to get a win at home,” Flink said. “As soon as we get that first IMC win, it will get a lot easier for us.”
The bright side for the Eagles is that all their key contributors, besides Bohn, will return in 2004. If this season’s pattern holds true, Flink would be joined in the starting lineup by juniors Kara Graves, Katie Pritchett, Ashley Delepine and Emily Bounds.
Sophomores Jamie Abbott and Chelsey Elliott have also begun to play key roles along with freshman Brianne Rowley, and juniors Sarah Sherrell and Napua Wampler.
“We have a lot of good young players,” Bohn said. “And I think next year’s team will be much better if they all stay together.”