Eugene — After cruising through their first two games of the season, the Highlanders played a conference doubleheader Saturday against the Eagle Point Eagles and Ashland Grizzlies at North Eugene High School. North Eugene took down Ashland 18-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-15 a couple of hours prior to their date with Eagle Point, while the Eagles played at Churchill against the Lancers earlier Saturday afternoon.
The first set looked strong early for the Eagles, who had a lead as large as four points early on. However, the Highlanders seized momentum on unforced Eagle Point errors and blew open a lead that eventually finished at seven as they took Set #1 25-18. Set two looked just like the first set for Eagle Point: Grab a decent lead early, let North Eugene grab momentum, fall too far behind to come back after a hard fought effort. Despite a number of Highlander serving errors, the Eagles fell 18-25 in the second set after a late momentum swing. The third set looked completely different than the first two, as Eagle Point never really had any momentum and North Eugene rolled to victory against an exhausted looking Eagles squad 25-12 to complete the sweep.
North Eugene Head Coach David Merrill discussed his teams Saturday sweep and the things his squad needs to work on. Coach Merrill on the victories, “We were running a bunch of freshman in the middle and running them hard, they’re still getting used to the system. We slowed it down both games, really focused on our defense, tried to work our setter as much as we could, and they’re a young team that came together and gutted out two victories.” Coach Merrill on improvement, “Our low point was serving for sure, we had about 22 aces between the two matches but 24 service errors as well. We basically broke even and that’s not good so we need to work on that, and then just covering our hitters so that we have somebody that can get the rally going.”