Mapleton Volleyball loses league opener in tight back and forth battle

(From left) Tanae Robbins high fives teammate Helen Burruss during the Mapleton game against Eddyville Charter on Aug. 31.

Team plans to ‘beat them at their place’ on Sept. 23

Sept. 8, 2021 — 

Eddyville d Mapleton, 25-17, 18-25, 27-25, 14-25, 12-15

The Mapleton High School volleyball team fought hard but came up just short in a five-set loss to Eddyville Charter at home on Aug. 31. This was the opening game of Mountain West play for both teams.

Mapleton started off hot. After senior outside hitter Opal Burress single-handedly finished off the Eagles in the first set. scoring the final two points on aces, it looked like this could be a short night for the visiting team. However, those hopes were quickly forgotten when Eddyville took the second set and forced Mapleton to score 27 to win the third. The Eagles controlled set four and finally squeaked out the win with a 15-12 win in the final frame.

“That night’s game was a fun game,” said Coach Molly Dooley. “Of course, we’d want a win, but we stuck with them the whole game and it could have gone either way. It was exciting. I like those five set games. It was so back and forth.”

Lack of effort was not a factor in the Sailor’s loss, which didn’t go unnoticed by their coach. “They were playing scrappy. They hit the floor. Watching film, I can’t believe how many times there was a body on the floor even when we didn’t get to the ball,” Dooley said.

Sustaining energy, on the other hand, could be a factor with volleyball and the other high school sports that have been repeatedly opened and closed because of the pandemic.

Freshman setter Morgan Milbrett said, “We started off strong, but we lost some of our energy and I think that’s why we lost the game. Coming out of COVID, we’re just learning how to work together and sustain that energy. Some of the freshmen haven’t played volleyball for two years. I think there’ll be a lot of relearning how to work together and how to stay up all game.”

Though physical energy is a work in progress for Mapleton, positive team energy is not and appears it will be the driving force for this team of 12 close friends. No matter the situation, the Sailors repeatedly pulled each other off the floor and kept spirits high with a helping hand or encouraging words.

Dooley noticed the effort all around.

“They have really good team chemistry and I’m excited to capitalize on that,” she said. “They play really well together because they care about each other.”

After each time they scored an ace or when the squad just needed a pick me up, the team’s strategy to just have fun together was on full display as they cheered and chanted for their teammates.

“We have fun as a team. We come up with fun cheers and just focus on having fun,” said Burruss, who led the team with 7 aces to go along with 2 kills.

Also, Senior Brier Shird had 2 aces and 4 kills, while freshman Tanae Robbins had 5 aces and 3 kills.

Milbrett agrees.

“I’ve been going to Mapleton since first grade. We are such a small close-knit community and I bet I could name everyone in this school. We are all friends, and it feels like we’re all family. We realize everyone makes mistakes and all we can do is lift each other up and remind each other we can do better,” she said.

Learning from their mistakes won’t be a problem either for what the coach describes as a team of quick learners.

“Last year we ran a 5-2 rotation, and this year were doing a 6-1. Half the team is new, but they all already have the new rotation down pat. (After a loss) we watch some film, find out where we need to improve, find out what we did well, and come back and beat them at their place,” she said.

For Milbrett, “At the end of the day, you have to realize your last game doesn’t affect your next one. You have to accept the loss, but you have to work hard after a loss. You have to watch film. You have to see what you did wrong, and you have to improve.”

Though not the start to the Mountain West League season the coach and team wanted, their goals are still high.

“I’d like to see us in the district tournament, and it would be even better to be vying for a place at state,” said Dooley.

By battling for 5 sets with Eddyville, the team’s goals are already being accomplished.

“A successful season wouldn’t be to win every game,” Milbrett said. “It would be to show them we are competitors, and we have skill to offer. Even if we don’t win, we are going to make it tough on our opponents.”

The Sailors had another chance to make it tough on an opponent on Tuesday, after press deadlines, when they faced another Mountain West foe, Alsea, at home. Read more about that game in the Saturday edition of the Siuslaw News.