SOAP LAKE — Once they figure out who they are a little bit, they’ll have a better idea where they’re going. But until then, the Soap Lake volleyball team will just have to chase down every ball, return everything they can and see how it all comes out in the wash.
The Eagles (1-1) took a win over Tonasket in the opener into Tuesday night’s nonleague match against a bigger, stronger Okanogan squad, and came within a hairsbreadth of taking the Bulldogs to four sets.
The 1A Bulldogs won 25-23, 25-9, 26-24 and were happy to get out of town with the win against the scrappy, little team from the Class 2B Central Washington League. Soap Lake had 21-20 leads in both the first and third sets and a point here and there of having the match go the other way.
“We’re obviously at a height disadvantage, but I thought we held our own at the net tonight,” Soap Lake coach Christina Harvill said. “We had some serving issues that hurt us a little bit. But we played well and we’re only going to get better.”
The Eagles had their chances early. The back-and-forth first set was tied at 18, 19 and 20, before Soap Lake grabbed a 21-20 lead. Okanogan came back and tied it at 21-21 then ran it out.
The third set was a carbon copy with the score tied at 21, 22, and 24-24 before the Bulldogs were able to pound away at the net to close things out. The Eagles were very close to extending the match to a fourth set.
“We played hard and held our own I thought,” libero Avery Ogle said. “We’re really committed to winning this year. Communication is key, always, and we started talking better as the match went on.
“It seems like the nature of this team is to scrap and dive for everything. When we’re down we don’t want to dig ourselves in a hole by putting each other down. We try and keep calm and realize were in this together. We tried our hardest and we’ll get it figured out.”
Middle hitter Julianna Hernandez and the front row was up against a taller, stronger front on the Bulldogs’ side. They didn’t stuff anything, but they did manage to get a piece to give their back a row to chase down loose balls.
In the third set in particular, the Eagles extended one point to 10 balls over the net and another point where the ball crossed back 15 times. Sometimes just putting the ball on the Bulldogs side was as good as they could muster, but then again Okanogan had its share of unforced errors with nine.
“We’re still a little nervous and getting in the groove (in our front row),” Hernandez said. “We just need to find ourselves and not let stuff get in our heads. I thought we played with a lot of energy tonight.
“Once we find out who we are a little bit, we’ll be fine.”
Soap Lake plays at Liberty Bell on Thursday.