Every Lady Eagle contributed.
The past two weeks, girls at Joseph High School continued to develop into a volleyball team. They finished the regular season with an especially challenging stretch of opponents, Old Oregon's top four: Pine Eagle, Imbler, Powder Valley and Cove. The Eagles kept their cool and managed to win one game.
"The girls played as hard as I've seen them this season," coach Breanna Stephens said of their last match, Oct. 24 at home against Cove.
Joseph's record in Old Oregon slipped to 1-9, though district coaches voted senior middle blocker Anna Bird an all-star.
Bird made 13 digs, two kills and a block Oct. 16 on homecoming, when Joseph hosted Pine Eagle. The visitors won the match in three (25-18, 25-15 and 25-21), even though Joseph's team was especially sharp on defense. Everyone on the team made at least one dig. Several made at least four. Junior Emily Howerton led with 14, while senior Josey Kohlhepp equaled Bird with 13. Kohlhepp also scored four kills. Everybody on Joseph also served well, including sophomore Ali Garrett. The second half of this season, she blossomed into a potent server.
The next day, Bird gave nine digs, four blocks and two kills to Joseph's effort at Imbler. The Eagles made several long rallies in the second game of their match against the undefeated Panthers, who swept them in three (25-8, 25-20, 25-9).
A week later, the Joseph girls tried to spoil homecoming at Powder Valley. After dropping the first two games, 25-8 and 25-11, the Eagles upset a loud crowd by taking a 25-20 decision in the third.
"We danced around before the third game," Stephens said. "Although we may look like dorks, it worked for us. We're not above it."
But the Badgers wrapped up the match with a 25-14 win. Bird made eight in the last game and totaled 15 on the day. She also had eight kills and three blocks. Sophomore Paige Hunting chipped in 17 digs and seven kills, while Garrett had 13 digs and served three aces.
The following afternoon, senior Mariah Warnock successfully directed traffic around the net in her last match at home. She delivered 14 assists and also served without an error, though Cove won the match in three (25-16, 25-17 and 25-14). Almost every teammate scored a point, including freshman Lexi Nelson, who had three kills. Bird had nine kills and nine digs.
Next, Joseph's improving team will drive on Halloween to La Grande for the district tournament.