The silver lining finally appeared for the Hood River Valley volleyball team last Saturday against Bend.
After a rough month of Intermountain Conference play, in which they failed to win a single game, the Eagles came out with their pride on the line and won their first game since Sept. 20.
“We would have liked to win the whole thing,” said junior Napua Wampler. “But we finally played a complete match against Bend, and it was a positive note to end on for all of us.”
HRV won the opening game 27-25, and then took Bend down to the wire in game two before losing 26-24. The Eagles again poured everything they had into game three, losing 25-20, and eventually wore down in game four, falling by a score of 25-15.
“We definitely feel like we improved,” said junior Katie Pritchett, who is one of 11 underclassmen on the varsity roster. “It’s not going to be easy for us to win in this league next year either, but I think what we have learned this year will help us.”
The Eagles, who also faced Redmond and Crook County on Friday at home, finished with an Intermountain Conference record of 0-14 for the second consecutive year — a record that first-year head coach Jen Baklenko was hoping to reverse this season.
But while the wins and losses remained the same, HRV did make tremendous strides this season, winning three more games in league than it did all of last year (zero).
The Eagles also won numerous games in Portland-area tournaments, highlighted by a fifth-place finish at the Southridge Invitational back on Sept. 13.
“It can only get better next year,” Wampler said. “The club is going to do great things for the younger players, and coach Baklenko is really making a difference.”
Baklenko and her husband have announced that they will be starting the Wind River Volleyball Club this winter (see Sidelines on page A8), which will help kids build a “volleyball base.”
“Coach said nobody’s spot on the team is guaranteed for next year,” Pritchett said. “We’re going to have to work hard and earn it.”