The Hidden Valley Mustangs certainly have the South Umpqua Lancers’ number on the volleyball court.
Hidden Valley of Murphy, which finished fourth in the Class 4A state tournament last year, defeated South Umpqua in four sets on Tuesday night in a nonleague match in Tri City.
Scores were 28-26, 25-14, 23-25, 25-18.
It was the Mustangs’ season opener. The Lancers dropped to 1-1.
Hidden Valley, the defending Skyline Conference champion, beat S.U. for the seventh straight time dating back to 2014.
“They’re very tall and we struggled blocking them,” South Umpqua coach Sarah Gray said. “We were pretty scrappy, but couldn’t match up with them.”
Senior outside hitter Shalyn Gray finished with 10 kills and 11 digs for the Lancers. Senior outside hitter Jenna Whitmore had 13 digs and eight kills, and senior setter Tori Lind contributed 22 assists and eight digs.
“We started out slow,” coach Gray said. “We chipped away at them in the first game, then didn’t play well in the second set.”
The Lancers are coming off their most successful volleyball season in school history. They tied for the Far West League title for the second straight season, placed third in the 3A state tournament and finished 19-5 overall.
South Umpqua lost four seniors to graduation, including first-team all-state setter Sydnie Johnson and third-team all-state middle blocker Kalie Mann.
“This year we’re a lot different team,” Sarah Gray said. “We were really controlled last year, but we’ll have to be more scrappy this year. Our goal is to be competitive in league and make it into the postseason.”
Shalyn Gray, the daughter of the coach, and Whitmore will lead the team. Shalyn Gray received first-team all-league and first-team all-state honors, while Whitmore was a first-team all-league selection and made third-team all-state.
Ellery Smith is S.U.’s other senior. The rest of the squad is comprised of junior Brooke Abel, and freshmen Raiya Estupinian, Amaya Slay and Grace Johnson. Sophomores Aubrey Rainville and Kierstan Chapman will swing between the varsity and junior varsity.
“The freshman class is talented,” Sarah Gray said. “If they continue to play together and build skills, they’re going to do fine.”
South Umpqua will host Coquille on Thursday in a nonleague contest.