High school students love homecoming week. The celebrations, theme days, class competitions, bonfires and dances.
High school coaches - not so much as they try to keep their team focused on competitions.
Exhibit 1A for that was Thursday night at Vannet Court when The Dalles-Wahtonka volleyball team knocked the Hood River Valley Eagles out of a first-place tie in the Columbia River Conference with a 3-1 (18-25, 26-24, 25-16, 27-25) victory.
"They just played great defense," HRV coach Scott Walker said.
The Eagle-Indians simply wore down the Eagles, digging practically every ball they hit over the net and then setting up Kelsey Martinson or Ann Marie Guischer for a kill.
Kelsey Kramer singlehandedly frustrated the HRV attack for most of the night, running up 20 digs, including several key plays in the fourth game.
TDW lost the first game, then trailed the second 20-16 when the officials took a timeout and long delay to figure out a lineup discrepancy; the end result being a point taken away from HRV and one added to TDW.
Walker was not happy with that outcome, saying that an HRV player had served out of order earlier in the game, but the officials had not noticed it. He said the correct result would have been to take away a point from HRV but not to add one for TDW and take away the serve from HRV.
"We didn't get to serve the ball and they put us in the wrong rotation and somehow they got an extra point in there," Walker said.
The Eagle-Indians quickly erased the deficit and went on to win 26-24.
In the third game the TDW defense completely stonewalled the Eagles. Olivia Starks got several blocks at HRV attacks, and Amanda Cimmiyotti and Emilie Keimig were all over the court to get to the ball as TDW rolled to the win.
The fourth game would be the one the Eagles would most like to have back.
HRV rolled to a 7-0 lead as the Eagle-Indians made numerous mistakes.
"After the second and third game our intensity was so high," TDW coach Dave Cornell said. "It was frustrating getting down 7-0."
TDW though slowly chipped away at the deficit until they took the lead at 19-18.
Following a timeout, it was the Eagles' turn to rally, and they twice had a chance to force a fifth game, at 24-23 and 25-24, but TDW got the ball back, got a kill by Starks to go up 26-25 and then closed the match with a thrilling final play.
TDW first thought they had the game won on a hit by Starks, but Shelby Carter was able to make a lunging save to get the ball back over the net. On the other side, Martinson took a set and blasted it over the net for the win.
"We've been working for this all season and we wanted to hit the hell out of the ball," Martinson said.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 4-2 and out of a first-place tie with Hermiston.
The Eagles lost in Hermiston 3-0 earlier in the week.
Next up for the Eagles is the Parkrose tournament today and then a key match with Hermiston in Hood River Tuesday for a shot at regaining the top spot in the league standings.
As he bid his players farewell after the game and told them he would see them at practice the next day, Walker shook his head and sighed.
"I hate Homecoming week."