By Jeremy McDonald
WILLAMINA, Ore.– It was a tale of two halves of the Willamina-Gervais volleyball game Wednesday, but gosh darn it it was pretty high energy for a preseason game.
The game went the distance, the 2A Cougars jumping out to first two sets before the 3A Bulldogs came around in the 22-25, 21-25, 25-17, 25-21, 15-9 victory for the home team this evening.
Willamina’s Halle Hughes compared the game to a District Tournament game while Gervais’ Ava Sellers credited their high-energy out of the gate that had the Cougs thinking sweep midgame.
“We had a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, we were working really well as a team and not making mental mistakes or anything like that,” Sellers said.
Slowly the Willamina homestand came to life as football practice ended in the little timber town. They brought the intensity that the ‘Dogs feed off of as they took advantage of Gervais’ miscues during the third set to avoid the sweep.
The momentum swing helped them build a 19-13 lead during the fourth set as the feeling of fatigue began to mount against the eight-man rotation from Gervais. Willamina’s offensive attack slowly came out of its slumber led by Hughes on the outside.
“The energy that happened tonight was comparable to District energy. It was really, really fun. Everyone was getting good hits, everyone did well,” Hughes said. “(The crowd) helped us out a lot, sometimes you just need someone cheering you on to really help out there.”
Communication and gelling more will help them move forward Hughes mentioned as the Bulldogs (1-0) travel to Jefferson Thursday to take on the Lions.
For Gervais, they climbed back into the set behind the serving of Olivia Boyd. Eight-straight plays with Boyd starting them resulted in Cougar points as they took a brief 21-19 lead in the fourth set. Willamina answered with six unanswered to force a fifth set as they held off a late Gervais rally for the five-set victory.
The game for the Cougars was very similar to the one they had with 1A Joesph Friday at St. Paul with all four sets being within six points as they gather experience in playing in these close games and sets.
“I think its going to help being in close games with loud fans, stuff like that. Just having experience under our belts and I think we’ll be able to finish it off next time,” Sellers said.
Gervais (0-3) will be at Culver Tuesday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald