Crook County blasts the Cascade Cougars in three sets to claim their eighth consecutive state volleyball championship

The Crook County Cowgirls left no doubt who the best team was Saturday night as they blasted the Cascade Cougars 25-15, 25-17, 25-12 to win their eighth-consecutive OSAA?state volleyball championship at Lane Community College in LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Cowgirls celebrate the final point of their match with Cascade in the Class 4A State Volleyball Championship. The win was the eight-consecutive state championship for Crook County.

“I didn’t have a doubt that we would do it,” said senior Samantha Kaonis following the match. “We were really focused and we got all of the jitters out yesterday.”

“It felt awesome,” added fellow senior, Cheyenne Camara. “I’m so glad I can be part of this. I think we stepped it up a lot from yesterday and showed them what our game was.”

The Cowgirls struggled to find their rhythm during the tournament quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Friday, but still found a way to win. The team looked nervous, and seemed to be feeling the pressure of high expectations.

“I don’t know why we are out of sync,” Head Coach Rosie Honl told her team following their semifinal win against Hidden Valley. “We’ve played such good volleyball all year. Maybe we are saving it all for tomorrow night against Cascade.”

By Saturday night, the nerves were gone and the No. 2-seeded Cowgirls never trailed, as they dominated the entire match against the top-seeded Cougars.

The Cowgirls opened up an 8-2 lead early in the first set of the match and cruised to an easy 10-point win. Hannah Troutman, the lone unanimous selection to the all-tournament first team, was dominant throughout the match, finishing with 17 kills and 15 digs — both match highs. Troutman, who also went 13 for 13 from the service line, blasted seven kills in the opening game to set the tone for the entire match.

“It was insane pressure having seven state titles under our belts and really needing this eighth title,” Troutman said following the match. “Friday, we let that pressure get to us, but tonight, we were definitely more relaxed and came out and played our A game. Winning state is a great opportunity and the team really stepped it up today.”

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Hannah Troutman was unstoppable at the state tournament. The unanimous first-team all-tournament selection led all hitters with 17 kills in the championship match.Joining Troutman on the all-tournament first team was Karlee Hollis, who finished the match with 12 kills. Kathryn Kaonis, who was named to the all-tournament second team, added eight kills as the Cowgirls overpowered the Cougars.

“We really came together in those last three games,” Hollis said. “I think it’s the best we’ve ever played as a whole. We made good decisions and gave it our best.”

“I’m just so excited to be able to win the championship in three games,” Kaonis added. “That’s the best three games of my life. We just found our rhythm.”

Cascade attempted to regroup after the first set and

managed to tie set two 9-9. However, that was it for the Cougars as the Cowgirls scored the next eight points to regain control of the match. The Cougars never challenged again as the Cowgirls blasted 43 kills and hit at a .381 percentage while the Cougars could muster just 25 kills while hitting at a .127 clip.

“Those three, (Troutman, Hollis, and Kathryn Kaonis) they just couldn’t be stopped,” Honl said. “They were just murdering the ball.”

Abby Smith and Kayla Hamilton directed the Cowgirl offense flawlessly as they finished with 18 and 16 assists, respectively.

“I felt great,” Smith said. “It was the best game we ever played and the excitement was crazy. Things just changed from nervous to excitement.”

“I’m just excited to be able to play with these girls and that we were able to pull out eight state titles. We found our rhythm and we just got it going tonight.”

Hailey Nelson, who joined Troutman and Hollis on the all-tournament first team, led Cascade with 11 kills while second team all-tournament selection Mariah Bartlett ended the match with 21 assists.

Honl added that the team had a great practice Saturday morning and then spent all day Saturday together in preparation for the championship.

“We had a great day today,” Honl said. “I read the team all the texts that our former players sent. They all said ‘It’s not your skill that’s going to do it, it’s your togetherness and supporting each other. Everything else you’ve practiced and you know. So, just get out there and support each other and have fun and play the game you love.’ They just kind of relaxed and played the game I knew they could play.”

The Crook County streak dates back to the 2006 season. Amazingly, the?Cowgirls were able to win Saturday night with five freshmen all seeing significant action while the Cougars have a veteran team with no freshmen on their roster. Smith led the freshman effort with her 18 assists. However, several other freshmen also contributed in a big way. Jennifer Roth finished with three kills and was 12 for 12 from the service line with a pair of aces. Aspen Christiansen added five digs, while going 10 for 11 from the service line with an ace. Laura Fraser added five digs and a kill while Jennifer McCallister finished with four digs and a kill.

Crook County finishes the season with a 26-5 record while Cascade suffered just their second loss of the season and finished with a 24-2 record.

Sisters knocked off Hidden Valley three sets to two to finish in third place, while Ridgeview, who lost to Crook County in the quarterfinals came back to defeat Banks three games to none to finish in fourth place.

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