DRAIN — Days Creek and North Douglas have long been two of the top volleyball programs in Douglas County, so it really wasn’t a surprise when Tuesday’s Skyline League match went five sets.
What may give pause to every other team in the county — and the Skyline League — is the youth of both teams. There are five seniors combined on the two rosters.
The visiting Wolves, still trying to find their way, entered Tuesday on an 11-match win streak and had dropped one set all season.
North Douglas tripled that total in Tuesday’s match as the Warriors won a gritty match three sets to two.
Set scores were 24-26, 25-20, 25-20, 15-25, 15-12.
“I expected nothing less with Days Creek,” said Warriors coach Anne Campbell. “They’d won all their matches so far, so they’ve been playing some really good volleyball.
“They lost some really talented volleyball players, but they have a really talented core back. I lost some really talented players, all-state players, but I have a really talented core back, too.”
Both teams suffered from sloppy play at times, but both also showed that element that separates good, strong programs from the rest of the field — a desire to not let the ball hit the floor.
“Our goal was to come in and play well and we self-destructed a little bit, we hit into the net,” D.C. coach Ron Dunn said. “It would have been nice to have played a cleaner match with North Douglas.”
Yet both coaches know a cleaner match is in the future for both teams. They’re still growing and learning to understand each other on the court. Improvement is there to be had, and both teams know it.
“We have been playing well and I think we’ve been improving since August when we had our first games,” Campbell said. “We made a huge step by winning that game five.”
After the Wolves (11-1, 2-1 Skyline North) limited N.D. (12-4, 4-0 North) in the fourth set to force the fifth, the intensity on the floor seemed to be turned up to 12 for both teams.
D.C. had broken out early in both sets three and four behind the service game of Kyla Crume. In the fifth set, a big early lead could have been devastating and the Warriors avoided letting the Wolves break away early. Instead, they snapped Crume’s serve after two points, then established a 7-5 lead of their own.
Late in the set, junior Abby Whipple fooled Days Creek’s back line with a serve for a perfect ace, putting N.D. up 13-11 and drawing a D.C. timeout. Coming back, Whipple’s next serve went into the net.
“Those things happen, and we track how we respond,” Campbell said. “Do we get the service back on the next point, do we give up a run? We told the girls they wouldn’t get any big runs against Days Creek.”
But the Warriors did break serve right away, then won a lengthy rally to capture the final set and the match.
“We’ve got a ways to go, but tonight was a turning point,” Campbell said.
Arianna Helgren led the Warriors with 13 kills and 26 digs, while Whipple had four kills, three aces and 27 digs. Setter Amy Dooley had three aces, two kills, 29 assists and 18 digs.
Days Creek was led by Carlie Dossman and Jolene Crume with 13 kills each, while Kyla Crume had 26 assists and seven aces and Moriah Michaels came up with 23 digs.
The teams will meet again on Oct. 5 at Days Creek, a late-season meeting that could have a big role to play in the Skyline North championship. In the meantime, North Douglas hosts Umpqua Valley Christian on Thursday, while Days Creek hosts Elkton — another Skyline contender — also on Thursday.
“North Douglas, us and Elkton, we’re three pretty good teams again,” said Dunn.