The Prairie City Panther volleyball team will face the Joseph Eagles at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Joseph in round one of the 1A OSAA State Championships.
Prairie City defeated the Adrian Antelopes 3-2 for third place Saturday at the District 1A High Desert League Volleyball Tournament playoffs in John Day.
The Panthers and Antelopes went back and forth with Prairie City pulling ahead to claim the victory, 25-15, 16-25, 25-17, 10-25 and 15-9.
Panther Katie Hire had several kills in the first set, and Rilee Emmel had a couple aces early on, helping their team stay ahead of Adrian from the beginning.
Prairie City’s Emily Ennis made it 19-11 with a kill. Then, after a long rally, Panther Hailee Wall blocked to make it 20-11 on their way to the 10-point win in set one.
Adrian turned the tables in set two. Prairie City came within 2 points midway, but Adrian pulled ahead with a 6-point serving run and held the lead.
The teams went back and forth again for sets three and four.
In the fifth set, the teams were tied 6-6. Then Panther Laken McKay spiked the ball, and with McKay serving, the team jumped ahead 11-6.
Prairie City finished it off with Wall and Emmel attacking the ball. Then Ennis served an ace, followed by Hire spiking for the win.
“We knew the girls had it in them the whole time,” said Prairie City head coach Jordan Bass. “When the girls played Adrian in Adrian (earlier in the season), we didn’t have our best day, so going into today, I just hoped everything would come together.”
“I always tell them, I’m never going to stop demanding their best,” she said. “It was good to see that those girls were mentally tough today and were able to get it done.”
Bass said Hire had a solid day.
“Definitely on offense, this was probably her biggest showing,” the coach said, adding that both Hire and Emily Ennis performed well as setters.
“Shaine Madden (defensive specialist) was working really hard trying to do her job back there and serving really tough today,” Bass said.
The coach said Laken McKay, a freshman, also performed well and gained valuable experience.
“It’s huge for her, going into the next parts of her career,” Bass said. “It’s really exciting to see what she’s going to do.”
Emmel was an “all-around” at the tournament, Bass said.
“I really have a lot of faith in her,” she said. “She really stepped up today all around the court, serving, passing, hitting — I couldn’t be happier with the way that they all played today.”
Bass is assisted by Lance and Louanne Zweygardt.
On the way to third at the tournament, Prairie City beat the Dayville/Monument Tigers 3-1 in Game One, then fell to the No. 1-seeded Crane Mustangs, Crane winning 3-0.
Concerning the upcoming round one state playoff match, Bass said that on Saturday they can only have so many expectations about what the other team is going to bring.
“We just have to bring our best and if our best is better than theirs, that’s all we can hope for,” she said.
Three Prairie City team members were named to the All-Tournament Second Team, including junior Katie Hire, setter, and seniors Rilee Emmel, outside hitter, and Emily Ennis, setter.
Dayville/Monument went on to beat the Huntington Locomotives in the consolation game.
“My kids, they were good teammates,” said coach Osborne. “They rallied behind each other.”
For the day, she said Aubreianna Osborne had “a couple knock-down middle blocks,” and Aubrey Bowlus did a great job of finishing the rallies.
She said Miranda Cook had a good serving roll, and they fought to keep her serving.
“All the kids that came in did well, like Maggie Loescher,” the coach said. “She had some great passes from the back row. Hannah Hand had a couple kills in the front row. The kids did really well.”
Coach Osborne, assisted by Steven Schmidt, said she’s looking forward to seeing some of their sophomores and juniors stepping up next year.
She said their team is small, and they have a gap between veterans and beginners, but they plan to attend camps and work hard to bridge that gap.
Bowlus, was named to the All-Tournament second team.