Dallas sophomore setter Emma Classen returns a hit against Corvallis on Thursday night.
Photo by Lukas Eggen.
DALLAS — In a span of less than 10 minutes against Corvallis on Thursday, starting outside hitter Maggie Blair and middle blocker Tristin Savage went down with injuries.
It would have been easy for the Dragons to lay down in the third set.
Instead, Dallas gave the Spartans a challenge, leading for much of the set, before falling 25-23, 25-13, 26-24.
“It’s crazy, that’s the only way I can explain it,” coach Shana Lavier said. “Two starters go down with injuries, and my girls played with more heart and hustle (in the third set) than I’ve seen all season. It was cool to watch.”
Dallas showed in that third set it could keep up with the MWC’s top team. The Dragons kept possessions alive with digs, extending and winning long points, and minimizing errors.
For at least one set, Dallas went blow for blow with the league’s top team.
“We knew we had nothing to lose and played with all our heart,” sophomore Emma Classen said.
The question becomes can the Dragons channel that energy for an entire match. The answer may decide whether Dallas qualifies for the state play-in round.
That third set is what Lavier hopes inspires the Dragons for a late season push — one that Dallas badly needs if it wants to extend its season. Dallas entered its match at Silverton on Monday losers of four in a row in league play. The Dragons entered the week in seventh place in the Mid-Willamette Conference — one game behind South Albany after a three-set loss to Silverton on Monday.
The top six teams advance to the postseason.
Blair will return Wednesday (today) but Lavier said there is no timetable for Savage’s return.
On paper, losing two starters so late in the season could be a nail in the coffin for the team’s postseason hopes.
Just don’t tell the Dragons that.
“We need to stay positive,” Classen said. “We need to talk more, be louder and encourage each other. We know we have nothing to lose. We have to play as a team.”
Lavier isn’t ready to give up on the season either. She may be scrambling to find new lineups and rotations to use, but Thursday gave her hope that her players can rise to the challenge.
“We have some really good players from JV we can bring up,” Lavier said. “We have to focus and figure out what we’re going to do. It’s something you can’t anticipate happening, but we’ll just have to mix up our lineup. They now know what they’re capable of and the importance of playing with heart.”
Dallas’ volleyball team is about to see just how much heart it has.
“They could have rolled over and they didn’t,” Lavier said. “It’s just something you had to see to believe it.”