Young Lady Cougars hit the road to tackle tough tests

<I>Hector del Castillo/Chieftain</I><BR>Freshman Morgan Waters approaches a sideline.

The next month will feel like a piece of cake.

Wallowa High School's volleyball team used a tough preseason to prepare for opponents in Old Oregon. The schedule last week included a match Sept. 14 in Enterprise, where the Lady Cougars managed to win one of four games. Two days later, they went to La Grande and took two decisions against the bigger school's junior varsity. At a tournament over the weekend in Joseph, they knocked out Echo in the first round before running into another strong squad: Cove.

"Preseason pushes us and makes us up our game," junior libero Baylee Shelton said. "It's our chance to figure out our strengths and weaknesses and how we can work with all that. It's just a matter of keeping our heads, playing our game and not worrying about who's on the other side of the net."

Senior Kuulei Delatori powered Wallowa's effort in Enterprise. The home team took the opener by a score of 25-21. Then, Wallowa drew even with a 25-18 decision. Delatori fueled another comeback in the third game. After falling behind by seven points early on, the Cougars used serves by Delatori to claw back to within one. The rest of the action remained close. Wallowa made several threats to go ahead, but each time, Enterprise imposed a critical block. The home team ended up winning, 25-18. The final game was also tight. Midway through it, Wallowa led by two points before Enterprise reeled off five straight en route to a 25-20 finisher.

Wallowa responded two days later in La Grande. The Cougars scored a couple of victories, 25-12 and 25-22, over junior varsity.

Returning to the county, Wallowa entered a challenging tournament in Joseph. Their early morning pool included, Ione and Cove, the same teams that would eventually duel for the overall championship. Long before their final match, both defeated Wallowa. Ione swept their two games, 25-21 and 25-9. Cove also took a pair, 25-15 and 25-8.

Wallowa vented its frustration on Echo. Matched up in the afternoon bracket, Wallowa started with a 25-18 win. However, Echo mustered a 25-23 decision and forced a deciding game. That went to Wallowa, 15-13.

A semifinal set Wallowa once again up with Cove. The Leopards finished the Cougars, 25-11 and 25-21.

Next, Wallowa's schedule will shift over to Old Oregon. Powder Valley will visit Wallowa for a Sept. 25 match. Then, the Cougars will return to Joseph on Sept. 28 and challenge the Eagles.

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