The Joseph High School Invitational Volleyball Tournament featured four teams - Joseph, Wallowa, Elgin and the La Grande junior varsity - about as evenly matched as they could get.

No one ran away with the championship, and at the same time, no one was hopeless. All of Saturday's games were up for grabs. You might assume that Wallowa struggled, since the Cougars only won two of their 10 games, but one of those wins came at the expense of Elgin, the tournament champ. The Cougars were one of just two teams that managed to top the Huskies.

Wallowa also came pretty close to topping the La Grande team - the same team the Cougars swept in three games on Thursday night. They had a 23-18 lead in a round robin match, but the Tigers stormed back and took a 26-24 victory.

The Lady Cougars played for the third consecutive day, and it wasn't like some nice and easy end of the week. Saturday's tournament started about noon, and the four teams crammed 10 or 11 games into the next six hours.

The Cougars' other win was in a close battle with the host Joseph. Wallowa jumped out to big leads, 7-1 and 12-3, in the beginning. The Eagles fought back and took a 17-16 lead.

The game was still tied, 21-21, but then with sophomore Anna Chrisman serving, the Cougars slipped ahead, 23-22, forcing Joseph to call at timeout. Wallowa held onto the edge and won, 25-22.

The Eagles got a measure of revenge when the two teams met again in a playoff for third place, and Joseph won in two games. It started out like another tight game but then, out of a tied score, the Eagles went on a good run and got ahead, 19-11. With a big lead, they were in good position for the win.

The second game followed the same route. Wallowa had a 4-3 lead early on, and then Joseph dominated the rest of the way to earn the third place ranking.

Hector del Castillo is the Chieftain's sportswriter. You can E-mail your comments and questions to hdelcastillo@wallowa.com.

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