Spikers play tough in losses to ranked teams €“ one 5A

The Huskies volleyball team started their season about as tough as possible last week as they faced three ranked teams and lost.

Coach Debbie Danielson is looking for it to help the girls toughen up to face their own league this season, which includes two more ranked teams.

They opened their season on Sept. 8 at home against Stayton, winning the first game 25-20 and losing the next three 27-25, 25-14 and 25-16.

“We played really well, but Stayton also had a big, huge middle that didn’t warm up until later on,” Danielson said. That player is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and “she killed us in the middle.”

For the Huskies’ first contest of the year, Danielson was pleased because the team put up a good fight against a team she believes is ranked in the top 12, she said.

Hillary McCartin led the Huskies with seven kills and two blocks. Tiffany Miller went 14-14 serving.

“All three teams were really tough,” Danielson said.

Lebanon, ranked statewide in 5A, one division up from Sweet Home and fielding four players over 6 feet, dominated the Huskies Wednesday at Lebanon in the first game, winning 25-8.

The Huskies tightened up their performance and lost the second game 25-19. By the last game, the Huskies held their own pushing their loss to 27-25.

“Even the 19-25, we were close the whole way through,” Danielson said. “We played well there. I felt good about it at the end. We really stepped up and covered our block.”

Danielson felt like the team improved from the Stayton game to Lebanon.

Tana Tyler was a team leader in the game, serving 10-10. Sam Johnson had seven kills.

The Huskies played Yamhill-Carlton, ranked fourth in the state, even closer Thursday night at home. Yamhill-Carlton defeated the Huskies 25-23, 25-20 and 25-21.

Yamhill-Carlton has two big girls, one in front and one that moves up, Danielson said, and they made life harder at the net.

Still it was “our best game ever,” Danielson said. Yamhill-Carlton’s coach remarked to her about the improvement in the team since last year.

“Knowing you can play with a fourth-ranked team feels good,” Danielson said.

The Huskies had a 92 percent team average serving, she said, and serve receives were the best she has seen the team do.

“I think both of our setters did a really good job as far as moving to the ball,” Danielson said, and both outside hitters were on, with Sam Johnson collecting 14 kills and 10 digs and Emili Riggs accruing six kills, nine digs and a 10-10 service record.

“It’s nice when both your outside hitters are on,” Danielson said. “We were exhausted, but every night was better. I’d be thrilled if we can keep improving on this.”

She believes the Huskies’ performance against Yamhill-Carlton would have translated into a win over the toughest league rivals, Central and Newport, she said. To beat those teams, the Huskies will need to keep up the intensity and bring the same kind of game.

“I think our biggest problem is going to be learning to win those games when we’re close,” Danielson said.

The Huskies next face Scappoose at home on Thursday.