By Logan Brandon • Sports Editor • 

Bulldogs earn a thrilling five-set triumph over rival Sheridan

SHERIDAN – Willamina secured an electrifying five-set victory over rival Sheridan tonight on the Spartans’ home court. The Bulldogs, who had dropped three five-set matches this season, exorcised their late-game demons with a 10-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-15, 15-13 triumph.

Sheridan’s seven-match winning streak was snapped by tonight’s narrow loss, yet the Spartans retain third place in the Class 3A West Valley League standings.

Following the first set, a 25-10 runaway for the home team Spartans, it appeared they would cruise to their eighth consecutive conquest. Hunter Hasslen, a breakout middle blocker this year, dominated the opening set with six kills and five blocks.

However, the visitors displayed a gritty performance in set number two, winning 26-24 to even the sets at one apiece. The Bulldogs’ Bethany Berry took over the second game, clobbering six kills and recording three blocks.

The third set also proved tightly contested, with five lead changes and six ties. Just as Hasslen and Berry commanded the spotlight in the initial two sets, Sheridan’s Emily Monroe played the hero in the third. She tallied four kills and three blocks, and her easy put away handed the Spartans a 21-16 lead, capping a 5-0 run leading to the 25-19 win.

Kylie Anderson then took the reins during Willamina’s 25-15 result in the fourth set. She routinely rocked the Sheridan defense with monumental hits and sizzling serves. In total, she notched three kills, two aces and a block in the penultimate game.

Entering the final set, both sections of fans raised the noise, and the atmosphere felt electric inside the Spartan gym. Sheridan grabbed the initial momentum, racing to an 8-4 lead on Hasslen’s kill down the middle. The ‘Dogs clawed back with a 4-0 run, highlighted by Brooke France’s two straight kills.

The teams traded points, leading to ties at 10, 11, 12 and 13. Finally, Willamina seized the initiative as Maddy Konovalov found the empty court on a drop shot to put the Bulldogs on the cusp of victory. The jump-serving Hannah Hughes then clinched the exhilarating 15-13 victory with an ace.

In the losing effort, Hasslen totaled 17 kills and four blocks; Monroe added six blocks and four kills; and Mariah Williams chipped in six kills.

For the Bulldogs, Berry’s 12 kills, four blocks and two aces led a well-rounded attack. Anderson registered one of her finest matches of the season, collecting ten kills, three blocks and five aces. Konovalov added nine kills, France registered eight kills and four blocks and Megan Gunn contributed seven kills and three aces.

Willamina (7-7, 5-5 WVL) returns to action at Amity Thursday for a 6 p.m. start.

Sheridan (12-7, 5-5 WVL) concludes a two-match home stand with a 6:15 game against Dayton Thursday night.