Crook County is edged in three sets by No. 1 ranked Central Catholic

The Crook County Cowgirls came up just short in the semifinals of the West Linn Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday.

The Cowgirls battled to the end, before dropping a 26-24, 26-27, 10-15 loss to the Class 6A and no. 1-ranked Central Catholic LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Hannah Troutman tips the ball over a double block by the Central Catholic Rams during the West Linn Invitational Volleyball Tournament. Crook County was narrowly edged by Central Catholic in the semifinals of the tournament. The Rams went on to edge Jesuit for the tournament championship.

“They just keep getting better every time,” said Crook County Head Coach Rosie Honl of her team’s performance. “I keep getting prouder and prouder of them. I mean the leadership of the older girls and the coming forth and becoming players of the little kids — it’s pretty awesome.”

The Cowgirls were seeded just 10th entering the 24-team tournament. The team rolled past St. Mary’s in the opening round of pool play 25-11, 25-20. The team continued to cruise in the next round, whipping Oregon City 25-19, 25-23, setting up a match with No. 4 ranked Jesuit for the pool championship.

The Cowgirls fell behind early in the first set of the match, but rebounded to take a 25-23 win. Crook County took an early lead in the second set, but Jesuit rallied and took the lead late in the set. However, the Cowgirls stayed calm and came back to take a 25-22 win to earn first place in the pool.

Despite being second in the pool, Jesuit also earned a berth in the gold bracket of the tournament.

In the quarterfinals, the Cowgirls knocked off Class 6A No. 7 ranked McMinnville 25-17, 25-15, setting up the semifinal matchup with the Rams.

The first set was tied 12 times as neither team could gain an advantage. Central Catholic finally opened up a 20-14 lead, but the Cowgirls came storming back. Crook County finally tied the match 23-23 on a kill by Hannah Troutman. Another kill by Troutman gave Crook County a 24-23 lead. However, Central Catholic tied the match one more time before the Cowgirls ran off the final two points of the set for the 26-24 win.

In the second set, it looked like it was going to be all Cowgirls. Crook County rolled to a 17-10 lead before Central Catholic went on a late charge.

Leading 24-23, Karlee Hollis stepped back to serve for the Cowgirls. Hollis delivered what appeared to be an ace, but a diving Central Catholic defender played the ball up and it rolled over the net on Crook County’s side where it fell in the corner, tying the set. The two teams traded points and were tied 26-26 after another kill by Troutman. Normally, a team must win by at least two points in volleyball, but the tournament had a cap at 27 points to keep matches from running late. The official stopped the match to remind both teams that the next point won the set.

Central Catholic then earned the final point, setting up a third-set showdown to 15 points.

“Central Catholic will never quit,” Honl said. “We knew they would come back.”

In the third and final set, the Rams were finally able to use their superior size to wear down the Cowgirls. Crook County trailed 9-10 after another kill by Troutman, but the rams scored five of the next six points to take the match.

“We have four or five freshmen on the court almost all of the time,”?said Crook County outside hitter Karlee Hollis following the match. “They don’t look like freshmen. They’re part of our team and we all came together in that last match and gave it our all. There was so much intensity and enthusiasm. Everybody was just one.”

Central Catholic (24-2) then went on to defeat Jesuit (19-4) 25-21, 24-26, 15-12 to win the tournament championship.

Meanwhile, the Cowgirls fell to 21-5 on the year.

Troutman finished the tournament with 58 kills, 53 digs, nine blocks, and was 39-42 from the service line with eight aces.

Hollis added 29 kills and was 59-62 serving with 13 aces. Kathryn Kaonis added 24 kills and five blocks while Abby Smith and Kayla Hamilton finished with 61 and 47 assists respectively. Aspen Christiansen had another strong defensive effort for the Cowgirls, finishing with 50 assists. Christiansen was also strong at the service line, going 46-49 with nine aces. Serving was what carried the Cowgirls for much of the tournament. As a team, they were 154-169 from the service line in the tournament with 48 aces.

“Troutman was absolutely incredible against Central Catholic,” Honl said. “But everybody on this team is hugely important. They all have a role and are doing their job. For us to be successful, there isn’t one person that we couldn’t have.”

Despite the loss, the Cowgirls are still clinging to second place in the latest Class 4A power rankings. Crook County has a narrow lead over Banks and Hidden Valley who are third and fourth respectively.

The Cowgirls have a key matchup tonight when they take on the seventh-ranked Ridgeview Ravens (18-4) in a Special District I matchup that is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

It is senior night for the Cowgirls. In addition, the team is hosting a free ice cream social in the Crook County High School commons area following the match.

Should the Cowgirls win, they will be the Special District I champions and earn an automatic berth into the first round of the state playoffs. A loss would drop them to second in Special District I and force the team into a play-in match, which would be held on Saturday, Oct. 26, in Prineville. The first round of the state playoffs is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2.

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