Crook County knocks off the Class 6A powerhouse Roseburg Indians to win the Rogue Valley Invitational

The Crook County Cowgirls saved their best volleyball for the championship round as they stunned the Class 6A Roseburg Indians to win the 24-team Rogue Valley Invitational PHOTO COURTESY OF HEATHER FRASER - The Crook County Cowgirls celebrate following a block during the team's victory over Roseburg in the championship match of the Rogue Valley Invitational.

“It was a great match,” said Crook County Head Coach Rosie Honl. “We had to come back and Hannah Troutman just kind of took over. She didn’t want to lose.”

The day started poorly for the Cowgirls. The team took a wrong turn on the way to North Medford High School and arrived later than expected. As a result, the team was moved from the first seed in their pool to the second seed, and had to play their first match with less warm up time than planned.

The team struggled in their opening set, falling 26-24 to South Eugene High School. The team regrouped in the second set, defeating South Eugene 25-18.

“They were seeded third in our pool, but they were not a third seed,” Honl said. “They were tough. They battled Roseburg in bracket play and all three of their games were close.”

After the narrow escape against South Eugene, Crook County played steady volleyball the remainder of the morning. The team knocked off Liberty 25-16, 25-22, then rolled past Ashland 25-10, 25-17 to win their pool.

The Cowgirls rolled past the Willamette Wolverines 25-15, 25-17 in the opening round of bracket play to reach the tournament semifinals.

The Cowgirls were severely tested in the semifinals against the Churchill Lancers. The Lancers, who finished second in the Class 5A state championships a year ago, jumped on top, and won the first set of the match 25-18. Churchill nearly eliminated the Cowgirls from the tournament when they took an early lead in the second set of the match. However, the Cowgirls rallied back to tie the match. The set went down to the wire, with Crook County finally escaping with a narrow 26-24 win to force a third and final set.

Playing to 15 in the final set, neither team could open up a lead. After battling back and forth for the entire set, neither team was able to open up the required two-point lead and the set went beyond 15 points. Trailing 14-13, the Cowgirls were facing elimination. However, Laura Fraser picked up a block to tie the match at 14-14. Crook County finally put the match away on a kill by Troutman, and the Cowgirls earned a 16-14 win and the right to face the Roseburg Indians in the championship round.

“Churchill and Roseburg are two of the few teams that serve tough and can serve receive,” Honl said. “And they can put the ball down. They are both tough teams.”

Roseburg earned their way into the championship round by knocking off South Eugene 26-24, 22-25, 15-9, then whipping Bend 25-17, 25-15.

The Indians, who were 15-1 going into the match, and ranked second in the OSAA?Class 6A power rankings quickly asserted themselves in the first set of the championship.

The Indians opened up an early lead in the set, before the Cowgirls rallied to close to within two points at 22-20. However, that was as close as Crook County could get as Roseburg scored the final three points of the set to earn a 25-20 win. Crook County jumped out to a big lead in the second set of the match and led 20-13 before Roseburg rallied to score six consecutive points to make the score 20-19. However, the Cowgirls settled down, taking a 25-22 win to force the match into a third and final set. Although neither team could open a big lead in the final set, the Cowgirls were in control throughout, earning a 15-11 victory.

“It was a great experience for our freshmen to play in such tight situations,” Honl said. “Because they played in all of them. They all got key blocks at key times. It was just crucial for these freshmen to play in so many tight games and come out victorious.”

Honl added that she was also pleased with the leadership shown by the team’s upper classmen.

The Cowgirls struggled at times during the tournament with their serving. The team had 43 aces on the day, but they also had 40 service errors. However, in the championship match the team’s serving was spectacular as they made just two errors in 59 serves and finished with five aces.

Troutman was outstanding in the tournament, finishing with 93 kills, 59 digs, and 12.5 blocks. In addition she was 56-62 from the service line with 16 aces.

Karlee Hollis added 39 kills, while Kathryn Kaonis finished with 36 kills and 13.5 blocks.

Laken Berlin and Aspen Christiansen played outstanding defense throughout the tournament finishing with 37 and 31 digs respectively. Setters Abby Smith and Kayla Hamilton also had solid tournaments. Smith finished with 67 assists, while Hamilton added 61 assists and was 45-50 from the service line with seven aces.

With the wins, the Cowgirls are still undefeated on the season. The team has a 9-0 record, and has moved up from sixth to second in the latest Class 4A power rankings.

The Cowgirls will be tested again tonight when they host the Bend Lava Bears in an Intermountain Hybrid matchup. The Lava Bears, who are 4-4 on the season are ranked ninth in the latest Class 5A power rankings. Crook County goes on the road on Thursday to take on the Redmond Panthers. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Then on Saturday, the team will be tested again as they travel to Albany for the South Albany Tournament which features the top Class 5A and 6A teams in the state, including No. 1 ranked Class 5A West Albany and Class 6A Central Catholic.

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