VALE — The Vale volleyball team has retaken the reigns of the Eastern Oregon League with a dominant 3-1 (25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-21) win over visiting Burns on Tuesday night.
Going into Tuesday’s matchup, the Hilanders were the No. 6 ranked team in the OSAA power rankings. After Tuesday’s win, the Vikings (10-10, 6-0 EOL) are two games ahead of the Hilanders for first place in the Eastern Oregon League and are currently on a six-match winning streak.
Steele said the Vikings have a swagger to them right now, one that they didn’t have at the very beginning of the season.
“I think we finally have that confidence that we can go and do the things that are working for us,” Steele said.
Vale senior Maycee Delong said the Vikings are really starting to click in all aspects of the game.
“We’re a really defensive team,” Delong said. “But we also have good hitters. We’ve just been focusing on following the rules of how to play the game. It’s about passing and communicating and making the smart shots.”
While the Vikings remain undefeated in league play, they were taken to their limit on Saturday in a tough five-set match against Irrigon. Saturday’s match was a bit of an eye-opener to the Vikings, who lost focused several times against a tough Knights squad.
But Delong said the Vikings were able to take that lesson and bring that into Tuesday’s game.
“We didn’t play our best against Irrigon,” Delong said. “I think we still had a lot of things to prove to ourselves. And we did that today.”
Steele said the Vikings have been a lot more focused down the stretch, not allowing things to get to them.
“We didn’t get rattled,” Steele said. “Early in the season, we got rattled and it cost us.”
Emmy Johnson recorded a double-double for the Vikings with 11 kills and 10 digs.
Demia Hardin and Tyanna Norton had 10 kills and Jaymeson Jensen had eight kills. Every member of the Vale team hit in the positive on Tuesday.
Maycee Delong had 38 assists and 13 digs.
“I think this was our best offensive night this year,” Steele said. “We played smart offense with no one in the negative. You can’t ask for better selection. They’re working on what’s available to them. We were a lot better tonight at making the smart shots and doing the right things with the ball.”
This fall, the Vikings have a corps of hitters featuring Johnson, Hardin, Norton and Jensen. While they have all found success at the net, Steele said they are “not heavy, heavy hitters.”
So Steele said the key to the Vikings’ offense is the same with everything they do on the court: communication.
“We did a good job of that tonight,” Steele said. “They have to learn, as I [the back row players] come into coverage, I have to tell them where to go... They have to be able to manipulate their body and arm swings a lot. It’s about being smart.”
Serving was a big part of the Vikings’ attack on Tuesday, a Vale staple.
As a team, the Vikings served at 97 percent. Norton served at 100 percent with three aces. Amber Tolman, Johnson, Lexi Cleaver, Delong and Sierra Cleaver all served at 100 percent.
The Vikings will host Nyssa on Thursday.