Joseph High made a strong push for the state playoffs in volleyball but playing three matches, one after another, took its toll.
Coming together for the Old Oregon district tournament at Quinn Coliseum in La Grande on Saturday morning, the Lady Eagles came from behind to beat the Wallowa Cougars in a five-game match. They followed that with a three-game loss to first-place Imbler and Cove.
"The girls just ran out of gas," coach Kendall Hayes said.
Still, Joseph senior Megan Yost was named to the All League, first team. Junior Paige Bailey earned second team honors and junior BoDean Warnock was an honorable mention.
Before the postseason, the Lady Eagles had struggled against the Cougars. They lost in three games at home on Sept. 25, A month later, just four days before the district tournament, they had to forfeit a rematch at Wallowa because several Eagles were at the National FFA Convention.
Joseph's trouble continued in roller coaster action in the first game of the tournament. The Eagles scored the first three points, but the Cougars answered with a 9-1 run. Joseph made four points, but Wallowa fired back with five. The Eagles got as close as 18-17, but the Cougars score four straight points and held the lead for a 25-22 win.
However, the Eagles regrouped and took the next two games.
The second was close from start to finish. The Cougars had one of the larger leads, at 12-8, but the Eagles stayed with them and senior Megan Yost scored on a block for a 13-13 tie. The momentum carried on until the Eagles had an 18-14 advantage. The Cougars edged ahead, 22-20, in the final stretch but the Eagles came back with three points. The local teams traded scoring until Joseph held on for a 27-25 victory.
Recharged, the Eagles dominated in the third game. They stormed out to a 3-0 lead and added to the advantage until a 25-13 decision went in their favor.
Wallowa took the fourth game, forcing a deciding round, and Joseph rose to the challenge. Yost made a kill to snap an 8-8 tie. The Eagles built a 12-9 lead and held off the Cougars to win, 15-11.
For the Eagles, beating their local rival opened some doors. After a brief pause, they went back onto the court to face a fresh Imbler squad. The Panthers won the match in three games.
Joseph then played Cove for third place and a spot in the state playoffs, but the Leopards swept the match in three.
The busy morning closed the season for Joseph. Next year, the Eagles will have to make up for some key graduations. Yost controlled action along the net with her powerful arm, and senior Emily Staigle gave the team solid play as the libero.
At the same time, several emerging veterans will return. Opponents had trouble hitting past Warnock, a middle blocker. Bailey did just about everything. Shelby Harshman was a reliable setter.
The Eagles will be in position to keep building and take another stab at the state playoffs.