The Dalles Riverhawks are still searching for their first win of the season, as the Crook County Cowgirls rolled into town to take a 25-16, 25-21, 25-17 victory Tuesday at Kurtz Gym.
In a weekend that saw the Riverhawks Head Coach Doug Magee and his assistant step away from the program, the players did their best to rally around each other and turn around their rough start to the season. The Riverhawks (0-6, 0-5 league) came out firing on all cylinders to start the match, as they quickly jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set. They were flying around the court defensively and sealing the net with some great blocks.
It did not take long for the Cowgirls to find their rhythm, though, as their frontcourt started asserting their dominance in the middle of the set. In the midst of an 8-0 run, Cowgirl’s sophomore McKenzie Jonas racked multiple kills as her power and accuracy at the net became too much for the Riverhawks to handle.
Like they have done all season, the Riverhawks did not go away quietly. They went on a 7-2 run of their own to close the gap within one point. But the Cowgirls once again finished the set on an 8-0 run as their hitters came alive to put away all of the crucial points.
The second set looked like it was going to go the same way as the Riverhawks found themselves down 17-5 with not a lot of positives to hang their hat on. The Cowgirls had all systems working so well that the only thing that slowed them down was senior Kacie Stafford tripping over herself when going back to serve, much to the amusement of head Coach Kristy Struck and her teammates.
Whether or not the Riverhawks saw the mishap, it seemed to be the turning point as Coach Julie Summer’s team went on an 11-3 run to climb back into the set and force a Cowgirl timeout. The run continued after the break as the Riverhawks’ grit and determination brought the crowd to its feet and the energy pulsated through the building. The Cowgirls showed outstanding poise just like they did in the first set, as they again closed the set with three huge points and took a commanding 2-0 match lead.
Going into the third set it looked like the comeback attempt in the second set had taken the wind out of the Riverhawks’ sails, but they scratched and clawed throughout the set. Riverhawks senior libero Jayleen Hernandez had a few outstanding digs while senior Charlie May did her damage at the net, keeping the Riverhawks within striking distance. But like they had done all match, the Cowgirls slammed the door shut winning nearly every clutch point and taking any drama that was there in the previous set out of the third.
Even with a coaching change amongst the many other reasons why this season has been off to a difficult start, the Riverhawks showed that they are not going to let this ruin the season. “It’s a difficult situation for everyone involved,” said Riverhawk Athletic Director Matt Morgan. “But we are moving forward in a positive manner.”
The Riverhawks closed the week with a loss at Pendleton. The Dalles is scheduled to play on Friday at Ridgeview in Redmond and Saturday at Hood River.