Unforced errors proved to be the difference as the Lebanon High School volleyball team lost its home opener to visiting Dallas on Thursday night in straight sets.
The Dragons won 25-21, 25-9, 25-15.
“We definitely had more unforced errors than we could afford,” said Lebanon coach Jorden Swanson. “Fifty percent of the points they scored, we gave to them for free.”
But there’s some things that we’ve been focused on and we’re working on that I saw tonight, and that I’m really happy with.”
Sophomore Trinity Holden led the Warriors with four kills and junior Isabella Jacobsen had three. Senior Mckenzie Crenshaw had a team-high four aces. Senior Lauren Graber and junior Holly Port each had six digs.
The Warriors struggled to put the ball away against the Dragons’ front line. Swanson said the team knows it will have to rely on its defense this year.
“That’s been our focus, to be the best defensive team in the league because offensively, we’re not as big and as powerful as some teams. That’s not going to dictate our success, we just have to find a different angle to go about it,” Swanson said.
The Warriors graduated hitters Cheyenne Whitebird and Nicole Christie from last year’s squad which lost to Crater in the first round of the 5A state playoffs. Lebanon also lost seniors Cessna Trembath, Taelor Ware and Nicole Bender. Whitebird was named first-team all-conference while Christie and Bender were named to the second team.
Lebanon’s volleyball program has enjoyed a strong run over the past seven seasons, making the 5A state playoffs each year with a second-place finish in 2016 and a third-place finish in 2015. This team is still seeking its own identity.
“Up until tonight, I haven’t used the same lineup twice in a row,” Swanson said. “I don’t know who we are. Even still after tonight, I’m not sure.”
Against Dallas, the Warriors started two seniors (Crenshaw and Endya Robinson), two juniors (Jacobsen and Port), a sophomore (Holden) and a freshman (Alivia Holden). The Warriors have multiple seniors on the roster, but only Crenshaw has more than one prior year on varsity.
“Overall, we are young mentally. I might have five or six seniors, but only a couple that have played varsity. Our knowledge, our experience of a game this fast, is that of a younger team,” Swanson said.
The coach emphasized to her squad that seasons are not decided on the first night of conference play. There is potential in the squad that needs to be developed.
“This is night one. Nobody wins a championship on night one. Nobody wins a trophy on night one, so we have lots of time to progress, lots of time to get better, lots of time to gain that experience,” Swanson said. “This doesn’t change the things we work on and focus on.”
That starts with cleaning up the mistakes which gave Dallas the advantage.
“I know tonight we didn’t lose because we aren’t a good volleyball team. We lost tonight because we gave too much away,” Swanson said.
Lebanon opened its season on Saturday, Aug. 31 at the Southridge Tournament. The Warriors lost to Reynolds in the knockout round 25-18, 25-8.
The Warriors (0-2, 0-1 MWC) will play Tuesday at Central. Lebanon will play two league matches on Thursday at Corvallis High School, facing the Spartans and Crescent Valley. The team will then compete in the South Eugene tournament on Saturday.