The lady Eagles had their ups and downs this week in the opening rounds of the 1A state volleyball championships. The Eagles faced down Prairie City/Burnt River on Wednesday, Oct. 30 but fell to Days Creek on Saturday, Nov. 2.

The cold but cheerfully clear weather set the tone for the match against Prairie City/Burnt River. The ladies seemed in good spirits in warm-ups before the game, which carried over into the real action. The Eagles handily won the first and second sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-14 behind strong serving and stellar teamwork that particularly paid off on long exchanges with the Panthers.

The third set saw the Eagles cruise in for a pit stop that resulted in the Panthers’ one set victory of the evening, 25-19. Fully rested, the Eagles came roaring back, repeating their first-set victory with another 25-18 win for the books and a chance to move on to the next round.

Serial killer supreme, Sabrina Albee, notched 20 kills on her belt along with an even half-dozen serving aces, as the Panthers found themselves virtually defenseless against her skill. Madelyn Nelson chalked up eight kills on the evening as well as a pair of serving aces. Freshman phenom, Molly Curry, led the defense with six solo blocks while Albee and Nelson reaped a pair apiece. Freshman Maggie Miller and junior Zoey Leith nailed six digs each.

“I felt that the first two sets were phenomenal,” Coach Jill Hite said. She added that the ladies let down a bit in the third set, something the team had struggled with of late. She also said that she never worried about the final outcome despite the third-set loss, although it was somewhat of a letdown because the Eagles had dedicated themselves to their serve receive game over the week.

“We’ll continue to go back and work on that for Saturday (versus Days Creek),” Hite said.

The Eagles then made a hurried 540-mile journey to Days Creek in the far-off reaches of southern Douglas County. Despite a valiant effort versus the second-ranked team in the state, the ladies were up-ended by set scores of 25-17, 25-16 and 25-20.

Albee added to her massive kill totals with five and also hacked eight solo blocks. She also added two serving aces. Next in line was freshman Molly Curry who also had five kills and nailed three solo blocks. Senior Madelyn Nelson got in on the act with two kills and four blocks.

Coach Hite said the girls made a spectacular effort against a very good squad, particularly considering the long trip the Eagles made down south.

“Days Creek were really good hitters,” she said. “Holy cow, they were good.”

Hite said that despite the set scores, the lady Eagles never gave up.

“That’s the cool thing about this group of girls,” she said. “They just kept playing. No matter what the situation, they just keep playing. They don’t get down on each other or themselves. They just kept playing and I’m very proud of them.”

“You don’t always get a group of kids like that.”

“They were a very nice community, as in they were very welcoming and it’s a wonderful place to go,” she said.The coach again noted the tremendous effort put forth by all team members and said the squad’s three seniors will be greatly missed next year.

Now that the season is over, Coach Hite is already looking forward to next year.

“It’s going to be fun,” she said. “It’s always interesting to see the next group come in. I’m coaching some pretty nice kids.”

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