The Outlaw volleyball team traveled to John Day for its Aug. 25 season opener at the Grant Union Tournament. The ladies lost all eight sets they played, but their performance was not without its bright spots.
The tournament was “pool” played, which means the ladies only played two matches with a 25-point cap against each of its opponents.
The first losses were against Heppner by scores of 18-25, 18-25.
The Outlaws lost starter Gracie Niezen to a knee injury in the first five points of the first set on Saturday, which put the team into a bit of a tailspin. She was unable to play for the rest of the day and is a question for this week’s play.
Enterprise followed with losses to Burns 9-25 and 13-25 and Jordan Valley, 12-25 and 24-25. In best of three bracket play, the Outlaws lost to Weston McEwen by scores of 12-25 and 15-25.
Despite the losses, coach Lisa Farwell noted some fine performances from her athletes. She said that senior Shelby Moncrief had 26 digs and passed well all day while sophomore Claire Farwell served 94 percent, going 15 for 16 at the serving line. Carsyn Miller had 16 assists as a setter, and Ashlyn Gray had 10 kills.
Coach Farwell noted the loss of Niezen and the challenges that faced the Outlaws afterward.
“We spent the rest of the day adjusting our lineup, which mostly involved two freshmen playing in her spot, Jada Gray and Rilyn Kirkland,” she said. “They both stepped up tremendously and did a great job for us. They played with a lot of poise and heart.”
Farwell said that the lineup change left Outlaws with more than the usual first game jitters.
“As difficult as it is to lose eight sets on your first day of play, I saw some great things out of this young, relatively inexperienced team,” she said. “Even with Gracie out, we were in every set.”
The coach said her girls did a stellar job on serve receive and played good defense and served well.
“Our net play suffered the most from Gracie’s absence, but this tournament showed me we have the hitters that can get the job done with a bit more experience,” she said.
The Outlaws played Helix, Weston McEwen and Irrigon at an Athena tournament on Tuesday, Aug 28. The team then travels to Wallowa on Thursday, Aug 30, before traveling to the the Prairie City Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 1.