JOHN DAY - The Grant Union High School volleyball team never gave up in its match last Thursday, Oct. 14, despite facing a tough team that's standing at the top of 3A in the state, the Burns High School Lady Hilanders.
The Lady Prospectors fell to undefeated Burns by scores of 7-25, 13-25, 17-25.
Burns is No. 1 in the Eastern Oregon League, and No. 1 in the Oregon State Activities Association "power rankings." The power rankings are derived by a formula which includes not only wins and losses, but the performances of opponents and opponents' opponents.
In the first set between Grant Union and Burns, coach Shae Speth said, "We never really got going. We passed the ball fairly well, but had 7 hitting errors and only 1 kill."
"The second set we did a bit better, but had a few service errors. We stayed with Burns for a while, it was 12-14 (Burns leading), then they went on a run and we couldn't regain momentum," she said.
In the third set, senior Shannon Croghan was serving, and started a 7-0 run. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Burns to regain the lead and push ahead.
"Burns is ranked No. 1 for a reason. They don't make a lot of mistakes," Speth added. "Even though we served them tough, and they struggled passing at times, their setters get their hitters the ball in position to take a big swing."
Overall, Grant Union had 50 team digs, led by senior Mackinsey Nash with 13.
"We dug up a lot of hard hits and did a better job of reading their hitters, but we still have a lot of work to do," Speth said. Hailey Cates, a junior, led with 5 kills.
"The scores may not show it, but we actually played pretty well," she added. "We covered much better than we did last week against Vale. The girls never gave up." Vale is No. 2 in EOL and No. 3 in the OSAA 3A power rankings.
The game left the Lady Prospectors in third place in the Eastern Oregon League. Grant Union is currently No. 8 in the OSAA power rankings.
The Lady Prospectors face three big games this week - all three are "must wins" for Grant Union to get to state, said Speth.
On Thursday, Oct. 21, Grant Union plays at Nyssa - No. 5 in the league and No. 18 in the OSAA power ranking.
"Nyssa will be a tough road game for us," said Speth. "I keep saying that Nyssa is getting better, and their scores show it. "
Saturday, Oct. 23, the Lady Prospectors host No. 6 in league, Umatilla, beginning with junior varsity at noon. Then at 6 p.m., a varsity-only meeting with Riverside begins. The Lady Pirates are trailing Grant Union in the league, at the No. 4 spot. The Riverside game is Grant Union's Senior Night.
The Eagle/Sandra Gubel
Left photo: Grant Union High School senior Caity Speth serves up a strong effort against Burns last week on the Prospectors' home court.