With HRV and Horizon soccer games being cancelled on Tuesday due to the fires surrounding the area making it difficult for players to participate in any athletic events, the Eagles volleyball team was left unsure if Mountain View High School would be making the trip to Hood River for the non-league matchup between the two schools.
After a dominating performance against Redmond in the Eagles’ first game of the season, they travelled to David Douglas days later and faced an early season test. Down 0-2 after two sets, the girls were close to dropping a game early in the season, but they turned things around, winning three straight sets and stealing a victory from David Douglas.
On Tuesday, the Cougars from Mountain View were notified by OSAA that they would be able to come out and play the Eagles.
This game was important for Hood River as they hoped they could turn things around after an early season scare.
Two hours after the first day of school, students, teachers, parents and community members filled up Vannet Court to support their Eagle volleyball team.
As people filed into the gym, smoke was creeping its way into the building as well, and before the first serve of the game a thin cloud of smoke lingered the court.
The Cougars came into this game searching for their first win of the season after losing their first three games to Corvallis, Churchill and Ridgeview.
After a hard-fought battle against the Scots last week, the Eagles came out during warm ups looking strong and focused for the task at hand, eager to display a much better showing against the Cougars. The game started in the right direction for the Eagles, as starting outside hitter Katie Kennedy fired a ball over the net for the first point of the game. The crowd erupted in cheers and it seemed HRV was going to ride this early momentum throughout the match.
But after a quick 2-0 lead for the Eagles, Mountain View responded with five scores in a row taking a 5-2 advantage.
And with some consistent miscommunication on the Eagles side of the net, the Cougars jumped on them, scoring four more points to the Eagles three.
Kennedy James provided a spark for HRV and got the crowd back into the game halfway through the first set after she ended a volley between the two teams that lasted nearly a minute.
However, the Eagles continued to struggle and in the first set, Head Coach Scott Walker was forced to call two early timeouts.
During the second timeout, with the score at 22-18 in favor of the Cougars, chants from the HRV student section began to spread across the gym: “H-R-V fight fight fight!”
It seemed the crowd was going to help ignite the volleyball team for a late comeback victory in set one, as starting striker Emily Curtis took control of serving the ball with three straight points as the Eagles closed in on the Cougars, with the score now 24-22.
Chants begin again after the Cougars called a timeout with the upcoming serve being game point for them. All the momentum leaning towards the Eagles, the Cougars came out of the timeouts and landed a shot behind the Eagles defense to the back-left corner of the court giving them a 25-22 victory in set one.
The Eagles fought back in set two taking it into overtime, but their 27 points weren’t enough as Mountain View scored 29.
And set three would be the last of the game as the Eagles had no answer for the Cougars, losing by a score of 25-13.
Shae Duffy, Kennedy and Curtis led the Eagles with six kills each; behind them was James with five. Hannah Mc- Nerney distributed the ball well with 13 assists, most on the team. The closest person to McNerney with assists was Curtis with seven on the night. Duffy and Kennedy led the team in digs with 10 and seven.
The Eagles first loss of the season was earlier than the team may have expected it to come, but a tough team from the Bend area came ready to play and for HRV this game was a helpful learning experience for them as it’s clear to everyone that there are still things to improve on.
“All the mistakes we made on Tuesday are fixable,” Walker said. “We can definitely pass and serve better and those are things that we will focus on in practice. It doesn't change any of our goals, and actually gives us a better focus for practice.”
With the smoke disturbing the Gorge, the team has had limited time to practice since their home game on Tuesday and with their next game on Saturday, Sept. 9, it’ll be a quick turnaround for these girls. “Hopefully, we will get a practice in before then, and get to go on Saturday,” Walker said. “I'm excited for Saturday because we are in a good pool for pool play at the Canby tournament, and we get to play Mountain View again.”
Everyone knows how good these girls can be, and nobody knows more than the girls themselves. Having these mistakes early in the season is an advantage for this talented group, Walker explained. “At this point in the season, mistakes are actually a good thing because they help us focus on what we need to do better.” “Moving forward the emphasis is on passing and serving for us,” he said.
After the Canby tournament, the Eagles will have a few days to prepare until they open league place at home against Pendleton on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m.