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Crook County moves into tie for first in the Tri-Valley Conference with straight-set victory

LON AUSTIN/
CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Cassidy Dill hits the ball past a double block from Estacada. Dill led the Cowgirls with 13 kills as Crook County defeated the Rangers in straight sets. The two teams have split a pair of matches on the season and are now tied for first place in the Tri-Valley Conference. It was a highly anticipated showdown between the top two teams in the Tri-Valley Conference and the issue was never in doubt.

The Crook County Cowgirls took control early and dominated the match, in a straight-set, victory over the Estacada Rangers Thursday night in Prineville.

"Woo hoo," an excited Crook County coach Rosie Honl said following the Cowgirls' 25-16, 25-12, 25-14 victory. "Wasn't that a solid game?"

The loss avenged an earlier loss to the Rangers, and moved Crook County into a tie with Estacada for first place in the conference.

"I think we had a little bit of culture shock coming out here," said Estacada head coach Shawna Lippert. "Crook County played very well tonight. I feel like they have improved a lot since the last time we played them. If we had been totally playing our game it would have been close, but they looked good tonight and I think it just kind of shut us down."

Set one was close, briefly, as the Rangers took a 4-3 lead on a kill by Megan Tuthill.

However, from then on it was all Crook County. The Cowgirls ran out to a 12-5 lead before cruising to the easy win.

Kills by Kerigan Waibel and Kennedy Buckner, coupled with a pair of aces by Waibel, helped the Cowgirls open up the lead.

The Cowgirls did much of the damage from the service line, with six aces in the set. The set fittingly ended on an ace by Waibel that hit the net, trickled over, and rolled down the side of the Estacada net for the point.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the second set on a kill by Sidnee Keller, but it didn't take the Cowgirls long to once again open up a big lead.

Three kills by Waibel and a pair of aces from Stormie Camara and the Cowgirls had a 10-2 lead.

Crook County continued to extend their lead, closing out the set on a booming kill by Cassidy Dill.

"This match was extremely important, just based on how we played the last time, which wasn't great," Dill said. "Having the home advantage, there wasn't any chance that they had to win. We made sure that we stayed serious the entire match."

The Cowgirls went to their bench to start the third set.

Initially the Rangers capitalized on the change, taking a 1-0 lead. When Sophie Davies made a kill the Rangers led 6-5.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Raegan Wilkins, left, Kerigan Waibel, center, and Kenna Woodward celebrate after a big point during the third set of the Cowgirls' victory over the Estacada Rangers on Thursday. "We were definitely disappointed with this game and wish we could have come out with a win, but we tried our hardest," Davies said. "We just didn't execute really well. Moving forward we are just going to have to work harder. We know what we need to improve on. We are just going to move forward from this with a positive attitude, and by heart, win these next games."

The Rangers still led 7-6 following a kill by Karlye Nakashimada. However, that was the last lead they would have as the Cowgirls once again took control.

Serving was key to the Cowgirl victory as the game closed out with a pair of aces by Anna Woodward.

"Our serving has been struggling and I told them the seven rules of serving tonight," Honl said. "Make your first serve. Make a serve after a time out. Make a serve at game point ... and they followed all the rules except they missed two first serves, but we've been missing tons of them."

Waibel was 11-11 from the service line with four aces, while Anna Woodward was 12-13 with three aces. The Cowgirls finished with 14 aces as a team.

Meanwhile, the Rangers had just two aces in the match, as the Cowgirl defense was nearly flawless.

Dill led the Cowgirl offensive attack with 13 kills, while Waibel had 11, Raegan Wilkins finished with nine and Kenna Woodward chipped in with four.

The Cowgirls had 43 kills as a team, compared to just 11 for the Rangers.

Davies and Trinity Gach led the Rangers with three kills apiece.

Anna Woodward did a great job of directing the Cowgirl attack, finishing with 37 assists despite not playing a portion of the third set.

With the win, the Cowgirls improved to 5-1 in conference play and 6-6 overall, while the Rangers fell to 5-1 in league and 7-5 overall.

More importantly, the Rangers were in 11th place in the OSAA power rankings prior to the match, while the Cowgirls were in 16th.

Following the match Crook County moved up to 12th, while Estacada dropped to 15th.

Should the two teams win the remainder of their league contests, the power rankings become very important as the league no longer has a league playoff, opting instead to settle ties with the power rankings.

"This game was huge for us," Honl said. "If we hadn't won we would have had a play-in game. Now if we stay ranked ahead of Estacada, we will host a playoff game."

This coming week is critical for both teams as they each play third-place Corbett.

The Cowgirls host the Cardinals on Tuesday, Oct. 3, while the Rangers are at Corbett on Thursday, Oct. 5.

"We need to go in next week and play Corbett and beat them," Lippert said. "They don't have tiebreakers anymore. It all comes out to where you rank."

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