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Buffs return from quarantine better than ever, beating 6A Benson in Hood River

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - The Madras volleyball team won its first match in over two years on Saturday, beating 6A Benson in two sets.In its first week back in action after a COVID-19 pause, Madras volleyball won for the first time in just over two years. The Buffs beat 6A Benson 25-21, 25-18 in pool play at a tournament in Hood River over the weekend. The team also took 5A Hood River Valley to the wire, but the Eagles eventually prevailed in a hard-fought 23-25, 25-21, 15-7 three-setter.

"I'm really happy," said senior outside hitter JB Bruised Head. "We won our first game in two years or so, even though we didn't have (some) of our players." Being shorthanded is nothing new for the Madras volleyball teams this year, though. All manner of circumstances have kept players off the court for various lengths of time, which has caused some shuffling in the rotation.

"Throughout the season, I've had to play every single spot on the court because of people being sick and missing practices or getting hurt," said Bruised Head. "So, coming back into this tournament after a week of not being on, it was like, 'OK, I have to relearn.'"

"I've been having to relearn so many positions so quickly."

Despite the need for adjustments, the team managed to come together to notch a win almost two years to the date after their previous victory. The last time the Buffs put one in the win column was Oct. 1, 2019, when they defeated Gladstone. The win over Benson came on Oct. 2, 2021.

"It kind of just came naturally and we all had a happy mood," said Bruised Head. "We really lifted each other up, and that's what made us play better."

"They've just been working hard," said head coach Frank Maynard. "They're listening in practice, executing well. They're also learning to be excited and to take that onto the court with them."

That excitement is easily apparent, as the team — notably Bruised Head, libero Taylor Olson and hitter Yvonne Greene — take every opportunity to whoop and holler at the top of their lungs in both celebration and encouragement for their teammates.

The week was not all good news for the Buffs, unfortunately, as they did fall in two league matches. On Thursday, Madras went to Gladstone and lost a 25-6, 25-20, 25-16 match to the Gladiators. Then on Monday, the Buffs hit a roadblock against a good Molalla team, losing 25-15, 25-11, 25-20.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - While the Buffs did not get the win, the team was still in high spirits afterward. The team and the student section both wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness.Even after the loss, the Buffs were in good spirits as they reconnected with their faithful student section, which was decked out in all pink. As for future home matches in front of the raucous crowd at the Buffalo Dome, Bruised Head noted one in particular that she has circled on the calendar.

"I'm really looking forward to our senior night," she said. "We're playing against Gladstone. Hopefully this time we do better. We're on our toes. We have a lot of our main players back, so it should be interesting."

That match doesn't take place until Oct. 18, however. In the meantime, the Buffs have a double-header tonight, Oct. 6, on the road in Estacada. The teams' first scheduled meeting back on Sept. 21 was canceled, so the Buffs and Rangers are stacking two games back-to-back to make up for lost time.

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