JOSEPH — A magical season — one that saw the Joseph volleyball team embark a 20-game winning streak, an undefeated run through the Old Oregon League, and a district tournament championship — came to an end Tuesday, Nov. 2.
The Eagles (24-4 overall) couldn’t maintain the momentum of a tight first-set win and ultimately fell in four sets to North Douglas (27-3) at home in the state quarterfinals, 24-26, 25-13, 25-20, 25-18.
“We really played hard. We wanted it, but we just fell short,” senior Emma Orr said. “But we tried our best. We gave it our all.”
Joseph took the court Tuesday in front of a raucous crowd at Sather Court, and fed off the energy during a highly entertaining, back-and-forth opening set. The set was played within a five-point range — Joseph’s largest lead was three and North Douglas’ top margin was two — was tied 14 times and saw the teams trade leads seven times.
The Eagles, as has been their M.O. all season, saw several players step up during the first set. Sarah Orr contributed a block, a kill and an ace in about a minute stretch to help Joseph take an early 6-5 lead. The third of five first-set kills by Cooper Nave gave the Eagles an 11-8 lead, and two kills from Molly Curry in short order kept the Warriors at bay, giving Joseph a 14-12 edge.
When the Warriors rallied to take a lead, it was Emma Orr that responded with a kill to tie the match at 15-15, and later a block to keep the Eagles within 19-18. Two more kills from Sarah Orr tied the score, first at 20-20, and then at 21-21. Meanwhile, the back row of McKenzie Keffer, Abby Orr and Maggie Miller, aided by Nave and Aimee Meyers, dug up numerous attacks from the Warriors.
Two kills by North Douglas’ Halli Vaughn brought the score even at 23-23, then at 24-24. But Joseph took the lead for good when Nave’s kill attempt nicked the back line for a point. She followed with another kill on the next point to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead and send the team — and the crowd — into a frenzy.
That was a huge one right there,” head coach Jill Hite said of the first-set energy. “They fed off of them a little bit in the fourth, too, when they were making their comeback.”
North Douglas seized the momentum in the next two sets. The teams battled to a 7-7 score early in the second before a kill by Cydni Dill put the Warriors ahead for good. The Warriors showed their own balance, as Samantha MacDowell, Brooke McHaffie and Brooklyn Williams had three straight kills for a 15-10 lead. Sarah Orr’s third block of the match, and later a kill by Nave, kept the Eagles within four, but nine of the last 10 points went to North Douglas to even the match.
“I think we knew that it was going to be a hard game going into it,” Meyers said. “I think we were mentally and physically very prepared. We played to our best ability, but it was a really good team.”
North Douglas used a 5-1 run early in the third set to create some breathing room, and later a 4-0 run capped by a Williams kill stretched the lead to 17-11.
“We weren’t being as aggressive,” Hite said of the play after the first set. “They were trying to find the holes, and North Douglas put up a big block, too, so it was hard to get around them.”
The Eagles scored the next five points, getting two kills from Nave and a putdown by Meyers to pull within one, seeming to get the momentum back.
But Dill put down a kill, and Vaughn followed with four aces in a row to stretch the lead back to 22-16. An Emma Orr block halted the run, and another Sarah Orr block moments later and a kill by Curry kept hopes alive, but Williams struck again to end the third and put the Warriors ahead by a set.
“They’re a very good team. It’s not bad that we lost to them, I think,” Emma Orr said. “They’re an amazing team and they’re going to go far. It was a close game.”
North Douglas did indeed go far, as the Warriors ended up winning the state title later in the week.
Joseph tried to get back in the match in the fourth set, but North Douglas took the lead 9-8 on a MacDowell kill and never relinquished it. The kill was part of a 7-1 run that saw the lead reach 14-9.
The lead held at 17-13 before the Eagles made one final rally, fueled by Nave. The sophomore started it with a kill, three points later served up an ace and then followed with another kill to get Joseph within 18-17, and an errant attack by North Douglas kept the score close at 19-18.
But a long rally that the Warriors eventually won on an errant Joseph attack stretched the lead back to three and was part of a match ending 6-0 run.
“They were good,” Hite said. “I was proud of the girls though, they fought really hard. They were a good hitting team, more so that they were a good passing team. We couldn’t hardly mess them up in their serve-receive. It was solid.”
Nave finished with a team-high 18 kills for the Eagles, and supplemented that effort on defense with 48 digs. Keffer tallied 24 digs on the defensive end. Meyers recorded 24 assists and added 16 digs on defense. Six players, in fact, reached double digits in digs for Joseph, as Miller added 14, Sarah Orr had 12 and Curry had 10. Sarah Orr also had a team-best four blocks.
“We had an amazing season,” Emma Orr said. “It was definitely a good one to end on, being a senior and all. Glad we got to be a part.”