Energized by their homecoming and senior recognition celebrations, the Prairie City Panther volleyball team made a statement on their court, sweeping the cross-county Dayville/Monument Tigers.
It was also the Panthers’ Dig Pink Rally, and they won with scores of 25-16, 25-20 and 25-11.
The Panthers and Tigers will face each other again in Game One at the 1A High Desert District Tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Grant Union Junior-Senior High School in John Day.
Although the Tigers had younger players step up to the plate and battle, they were missing their powerhouse senior Aubrey Bowlus.
Prairie City senior Hailee Wall had 100% serving for the night with 10 aces for the Panthers.
Panther Katie Hire had six aces and five kills for Prairie City, and Rilee Emmel and Emily Ennis had six kills each.
Prairie City pulled away with an early lead in the first set and were ahead 12-7 when Dayville/Monument started narrowing the lead.
The Tigers trailed 15-12 when Wall spiked the ball and a Tiger block attempt went out.
Hire scored on two aces to extend Prairie City’s lead, Ennis added a couple big swings for kills and Wall finished the match with a couple strong serves.
Set two saw a lot of back and forth between the teams. This time Dayville/Monument had an 8-2 lead. Then Wall had a serving run with a couple aces, and the Panthers tied it 8-8.
The teams knotted up the score four more times before Prairie City began moving ahead, from 17-17 to 23-17 as Hire served and added two aces.
Prairie City finished strong with a 14-point win in the third set.
After Friday’s game, Dayville/Monument head coach Treila Osborne said they were heartbroken, but added her team blocked exceptionally well.
She said Prairie City was “on,” and it was the little things that cost them points.
“We started hitting the net, and we missed a crucial serve,” Osborne said.
She said Hannah Hand and Haylee Collins did a great job stepping up with Bowlus missing.
The coach added that their big middles, Aubreianna Osborne and Miranda Cook blocked well. Each had four kills and two solo blocks.
Denali Twehues had four aces, and Brooklyn Near had two aces. Hannah Hand had one kill.
“I was really proud of them,” coach Osborne said. “We’re grateful that we got to celebrate their Dig Pink night and their homecoming, so we’re thankful that they had us for that.”
Prairie City head coach Jordan Bass said she saw some exciting things from her team.
“Hailee Wall’s been working really hard to be more aggressive in the middle, and it’s showing,” Bass said. “Same thing with Emily Ennis — she’s really trying to control that power and put it to good use.”
She said Aleah Johns also performed well.
“She went in there and acted like she’s been in there all season,” Bass said. “That was great to see, from all of our seniors.”
Between the first and second sets, Panther senior Shaine Madden held a “Miracle Minute” in which cheerleaders and volleyball players gathered money from the crowd in 60 seconds to raise money for those fighting breast cancer.
Over $465 was raised in that time.
Half of the money will help local patients at Blue Mountain Hospital, and the other half will be donated to the Side Out Foundation, Madden said.
She said she’s seen several family members and friends of her family battle breast cancer.
“I thought this would be a good way to support them, and raise money for those who are fighting,” Madden said.
She expressed gratitude for HECS stealthscreen garments, which donated their pink uniforms, and Sharrie Slinkard for donating a gift basket for a drawing.
Bass said, “It was fun to see everybody come together for such a good cause.”
Now they’re preparing for Saturday’s district tournament.
“We implemented some new things this week,” Bass said. “We’re still learning and trying to work out some bugs, but tonight was a good test for that, and I thought it looked really good.
“We’re just going to keep plugging away, the way that we normally do, trying to get better throughout the week and hopefully come out 100% on Saturday.”