POWERS — On the court, Powers beat Pacific in the second volleyball matchup of the season between the Skyline League rivals on Saturday night, 24-26, 25-19, 25-18, 25-17.
After the match, though, the teams were thrilled to just be playing each other, after both had to scrap a recent season because of a lack of players.
It was the first meeting between the teams in Powers since the 2016 season. Pacific didn’t have a team in 2017 and Powers didn’t last fall.
“I like coming to Powers,” said Pacific senior Natalie Vincent. “It’s like they are in the same boat as us.”
Both schools are small — Pacific has 46 students and Powers 20 this fall. But it appears both programs are going to be able to avoid worries of not being able to have a team for the foreseeable future.
“We both have huge groups coming up,” said Pacific coach Kris Nieraeth.
Both Pacific and Powers have 18 players in their program from fifth through eighth grades.
And they aren’t losing much. Vincent was the only senior on the court, though Pacific’s substitute is exchange student Honoka Miyagawa. And the only juniors among the seven players on the Powers roster are Cheyenne and Skyler Dowe.
Powers also has four freshmen, and one of them was the big difference Saturday night.
Trinidy Blanton took over during stretches of the match after Pacific won the first set.
In the second set, the Pirates took a 17-16 lead on a kill by Nikki Lee. Blanton had kills on the next five points and Powers only trailed one other time in the entire match, after a service error to start the final set.
Blanton finished the night with 26 kills, and got some help on offense from fellow freshman Lauren Stallard and Kendra Hutton, the team’s lone sophomore. Setter Emma Krantz distributed the ball well.
“This is her first year being a setter,” Powers coach Heather Shorb said. “She’s doing a good job and gaining more confidence playing in that role.”
Krantz also was a big weapon for Powers with her serving, finishing the match with 10 aces.
Blanton said the Cruisers struggled with their communication in the first set and improved throughout the match.
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“After the first set, we calmed down, got it together and played as a team,” she said. “We worked really hard.”
Powers also had solid defense, led by Stallard and Blanton in the back row, with Krantz, Hutton and Holly McKnight also digging up Pacific attacks.
Both Shorb and Blanton praised the work of Hutton, who wasn’t able to play at all last year, while the freshmen had their eighth-grade season.
“Kendra has made a huge difference to the team,” Blanton said.
Vincent led the Pacific attack with 10 kills, to go with 17 digs and two aces. . Sierra White had eight kills and 17 digs, Lee had six kills and three aces and setter Audrey Griffith finished with 17 assists, 11 digs and four kills.
“I think we’re definitely improving from last season,” Vincent said. “I’m proud of everyone coming together.”
Nieraeth said the Pirates just need to build more confidence.
“Trinidy is a great player,” she said. “There’s no reason my players can’t rise to that level. They just have to believe that we can do it.”
Shorb said the Pirates appear to be getting better.
“I thought they improved in a week,” she said.
Powers continued its strong start in the Skyline League’s South Division. The Cruisers are second in the division with a 6-3 record.
“I’m excited,” Blanton said, referring to this year and the seasons ahead for the young Cruisers. “I think we’re going to make it far in the future.”
Pacific fell to 1-8, though the Pirates have been competitive in a number of matches.
Powers hosts Camas Valley on Tuesday and Pacific visits Yoncalla.