Coming off a tough loss to 6A division Roseburg High School, Eagles Point’s varsity volleyball team returned to their home court ready to win. And, they did. Twice. The Eagles beat the Ashland Grizzlies 3 sets to 1 on Sept. 11th with scores of 19-25, 25-21, 30-28, and 25-18; and then, they claimed a decisive victory over the Klamath Union Pelicans on Sept. 14th, winning the first 3 sets by scores of 25-15, 25-18, and 25-9.
The first set against Ashland did not go as planned for the Eagles. They had trouble holding onto the serve, while the Grizzlies put together multiple two- and three-point runs to quickly gain the lead. During a break in the set, as the officials settled a few discrepancies, head coach Beth Bilden and JV coach Brittany Reynolds held a visibly impassioned pep-talk with their athletes.
“Basically, the conversation was, ‘If you want to win this game, we’ve got to change,’” Bilden explained. “And, so they did. They came out, and they had a completely different outlook.”
The Eagles began the second set on a much stronger foot. Outside hitter, Brianna Shopp, served an early seven-point run, including two aces. Some faults on the Ashland side, and another three-point run served by setter Hannah Morris, brought the Eagles to a ten point lead by the time Ashland called their second timeout. A nail-biting third set saw the Eagles hammer out the win after playing eleven volleys on game point. After this, the Grizzlies appeared to lose some of their energy, and the Eagles had a much easier time winning the fourth set.
Against Ashland, Hannah Morris had 9 assists, and Brianna Shopp got 9 kills and 16 digs. Taylor Bidwell had 10 kills and 5 blocks. Kelly Brawner got 23 digs, Kinsey Bradshaw had 6 blocks, and McKenzee Parker put up 20 assists.
The scores for Thursday’s game against KU tells the entire story. The Eagles put on a solid performance all around, and the Pelicans simply could not keep up. Not once in all three sets did KU hold possession of the serve for more than two points in a row, while several Eagles went on long service runs, the most impressive being McKenzee Parker’s nine-point run in the third set.
Against Klamath Union, Bradshaw and Morris made a powerful defensive duo at the net, with Bradshaw getting 7 blocks and Morris getting 3 blocks with her 7 assists. Bradshaw also had 8 kills, while Bidwell hit 7 kills. Brawner had 12 digs, Shopp got 9 digs, and Neeshaa Garcia picked up 7 digs. Parker had 13 assists.
Coach Bilden described her team’s workout theme as “always getting better,” and the Eagles have definitely accomplished that in these last two games.
But, the varsity Eagles are not the only ones enjoying recent success at home. The JV team beat Ashland in the first 2 sets with scores of 25-19, and 25-22; and won over Klamath Union, 2 sets to 1 with scores of 19-25, 25-16, and 15-13. The freshman Eagles beat both Ashland and KU in 2 sets— 25-22 and 25-16 over Ashland, then 25-12 and 25-20 against Klamath Union.
This makes two games in a row where Eagles volleyball had program-wide victories at each level of competition. Freshman coach, Hannah Mannenbach, summarized her athlete’s success on Thursday; “They just had fun and played together as a team. That’s what really brought out the win.”
The Eagles’ next league game is at North Medford High School on Tuesday, Sept. 18th. Then they will play at home on Thursday, Sept. 20th, against Crater High School.