After a hyperactive and very successful week in volleyball, the Wallowa Cougars emerged at the top of the heap, now ranked second in their conference and 13th in the state OSAA 1A division.
Monday, Sept. 23 saw the Cougs taking a few bites out of the Elgin Huskies at home, easily winning in three sets, 25-7, 25-8 and 25-15. Coach Janea Hulse said the crowd was a lot of fun and kept the girls excited, which made for a great atmosphere.
Hulse said that Ashlyn Young set the ball well, and the defense was much better. This resulted in a very aggressive offense. Net play improved as well.
Young had 14 strong serves and 3 aces. Jamie Johnston and Shanna Rae Tillery did great on both offense and defense.
"As a whole, the team did well and I'm proud of them," Hulse said. " They kept their attitudes up and positive and worked as a team."
Thursday saw the Wallowa Cougars taking on Cove, in a thrilling and suspenseful match-up that kept fans on both sides perched on the edge of their seats. Scores crept up, tied, see-sawed back and forth, with some heroic digs by Hailey Brockamp and grand slams by Jamie Johnston and Shanna Rae Tillery. Wallowa won in four sets, losing the first, 25-20, but winning the rest: 25-10, 25-23 and 25-22.
The following day saw away matches versus Adrian and Jordan Valley, which netted more wins for the Cougs.
Hulse said it took some time to recover from the long bus journey. Although Adrian won the first set, they fell in the following three to the Cougars: 25-22, 25-15 and 25-16.
"Adrian gave us a good fight," Hulse said. "They were scrappy and we had to push ourselves to get the win."
The ladies next battled Jordan Valley, but set them down in three sets, 25-18, 25-15 and 25-22. Hulse noted Jordan Valley was also scrappy and despite the score, the ladies had to work to find holes in their defense; which they eventually did.
The following day saw the Cougs back on their home turf, facing the Nixyaawii Golden Eagles in the morning, followed by the Griswold Grizzlies in the afternoon. Nixy brought a relatively young team to the Wallowa court. Although the Golden Eagles tried hard and never gave up, their inexperience got the best of them with missed opportunities on defense and a number of serves that failed to clear the net. The Cougs took full advantage, with ace serves, some ferocious slams by Shanna Rae Tillery, and great defense at the net. They bested the the Golden Eagles, 25-13, 25-8 and 25-4.
Hulse noted that Young continually improves at running the offense, and the team is getting more confidence in each other and themselves. Young shoveled 21 digs, had two kills, three aces and 19 strong serves. Tillery had 13 digs, a block, five aces with another 17 aggressive serves, and seven kills.
Jamie Johnston tallied 19 digs, five solo blocks, racked eight kills and three aces. Ella Moeller and Libby Fisher both played good defense and each had 12 digs on the battle.
Not yet through proving themselves, the Cougs took on Griswold. The Grizzlies quickly found they'd forgotten their teeth and claws, also going down in three sets, 25-12, 25-8 and 25-10.
Highlights included junior, Sam Starner, who came off the bench and served strong for the ladies. Starner had 24 total serves without any errors. Tillery had her usual outstanding night with eight kills and played strong all the way around while Johnston worked the net well and played well on defense.
"The girls keep gaining confidence and I hope to see that show more on each game," Hulse said. "We are excited. These girls have been working hard to get to this point. Goals have been set and I feel that we are ready for this competition."
The busy week saw the Cougs wrap it up with a 5-1 league record and 14-5 overall, sitting in second place. The Cougs again face Griswold away on Saturday, Oct. 5