Pendleton doesn’t possess the power of some of the Intermountain Conference’s best volleyball teams.
But on Tuesday, the Bucks brought with them one intangible that the Hood River Valley Eagles are still developing: Experience.
Pendleton (6-4) defeated the youthful Eagles in three straight sets — 25-13, 25-19, 25-13 — to drop them to 0-11 in the IMC.
And while their record isn’t sparkling, the Eagles still feel like they have a chance this weekend when they close out the season with three home matches.
Two of their opponents, Redmond and Bend, are in the middle of the pack, while the other, Crook County, is ranked No. 10 in the latest Class 4A state poll.
HRV played Redmond on Friday at 5 p.m., and Crook County at 8 p.m. And as if that wasn’t grueling enough, the Eagles must turn around and play Bend today at noon (JV starts at 11 a.m.; varsity will follow).
Redmond is one of two IMC teams that HRV has won a game against this year. The other is Summit, which currently sits in seventh place at 3-9. Redmond came into Friday’s match at 4-9, while Bend enters today’s match at 6-4.
Win or lose, the bright side for the Eagles is that all but one of their key contributors will be returning in 2004.
Danielle Bohn is the only everyday player who will graduate next spring, leaving coach Jen Baklenko with a roster full of budding stars such as Meghan Flink, Kara Graves, Jamie Abbott and Chelsey Elliott.
Juniors Katie Pritchett, Emily Bounds, Napua Wampler, Ashley Delepine and Sarah Sherrell will also return next year, along with freshman upstart Brianne Rowley.
Rowley was called up to varsity at midseason, and has made her mark on the team with solid net play and outstanding hustle — something that every player on the HRV team has exhibited this season.
Hope is also on the horizon in the form of a new volleyball club, which Baklenko and her husband, Scott, are currently trying to organize.
Details will be announced in the coming weeks, but preliminary plans include teams for 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18 year-olds.