Shelton digs Lady Cougs out of Dufur

<I>Hector del Castillo/Chieftain</I><R>Senior Kuulei Delatori sets the ball up for her teammates against St. Paul.

Lady Cougars covered all grounds.

The volleyball, no matter how strongly hit or carefully directed Sept. 4 in Dufur, rarely found a spot unoccupied by a girl from Wallowa High School. Using their athleticism and good communication during the Classic Jamboree, the Cougars converted many digs into points. That helped them enjoy a successful start to this season, winning four of six games.

"Our communication is really good," senior McKenzie Shelton said. "That's what kept us in these games. They were exciting, maybe a little nerve wracking. I'm glad we got to the ball."

Wallowa started the day with a victory over Lowell. After losses to St. Paul and Dufur, the local girls knocked off their next three opponents: Mitchell, South Wasco County and Echo.

Right away, digs played a big role in the win over Lowell. The Cougars jumped ahead by nine points. The Red Devils answered with several hard hits. Eventually, they took a lead of 16-15. But then, Wallowa's defense took over the game. Shelton made a number of digs. Often, she had little time to react.

"It was just instinct," Shelton said. "I have my blond moments."

Wallowa's front line took advantage. Senior Kuulei Delatori, junior Skylar Waters and junior Rebekah Jamerson turned the saves by Shelton into five straight points. Waters' spike to the opposite corner wrapped up the win, 20-16.

The Cougars followed their victory with two losses. St. Paul and Dufur both featured strong defenses and dealt Wallowa setbacks by the same score, 20-8.

However, the Cougars remained confident. Defeating Mitchell, 20-12, junior Sara Chrisman delivered powerful serves. Wallowa's front line dominated the net. That continued in a 20-9 win over South Wasco County. The afternoon finished with Wallowa over Echo, 20-11.

Next, Sept. 9, the Cougars will host the girls from Union. The match is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Two days later, Wallowa will play in a tournament at Heppner.

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