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Crook County takes a 3-1 victory at Molalla to take over sole possession of first place in the Tri-Valley Conference

It wasn't their best effort, but the Crook County LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Liz Barker goes up for a shot against Molalla earlier this year. The Cowgirls defeated the Indians Thursday night in Molalla. The win coupled with an Estacada loss gave the Cowgirls sole possession of first place in the Tri-Valley Conference.Cowgirls did enough to take a critical league volleyball win over the Molalla Indians Thursday night in Molalla.

The Cowgirls took a hard-fought 25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20 victory over the Indians to move their record to 7-1 in Tri-Valley Conference play.

The win coupled with an Estacada loss to Corbett puts the Cowgirls in the driver's seat to win their fourth consecutive league championship.

"That's a big relief," Crook County head coach Rosie Honl said of Corbett's upset win over Estacada. "You don't want to tie for the league title. You want to take it outright."

With just two matches remaining in the league season, against Madras and Gladstone, who have a combined two wins between them all season, that means the Cowgirls are a virtual lock to win the league championship.

Normal starters Cassidy Dill and Kerigan Waibel were late Thursday, so didn't play in the first set against the Indians.

With the team still winning the set Honl elected to juggle her lineup and play a 6-2 offense instead of a 5-1.

With Molalla playing inspired volleyball and the Cowgirls relying heavily on their bench, the match remained close throughout.

"They had a great match," Honl said of Molalla's play. "They were making great plays. They played hard and they just wouldn't let anything down. They were so excited and their coach was so happy with them."

Honl added that after the Indians took the third set, she went back to her normal rotation for the final set of the match.

Still, the Indians didn't go away quietly, fighting to the very end.

Waibel led the Cowgirls in kills with 10, while Kenna Woodward, Raegan Wilkins, and Dill each finished with eight.

Waibel also led Crook County in serving, going 12-14 with four aces. Wilkins was 12-13 with two aces, while Mekynzie Wells went 20-23 with five aces.

Wells also had an outstanding defensive effort, finishing with 43 digs in the match.

The Cowgirls host the winless Gladstone Gladiators tonight. The team then competes in the West Linn Invitational on Saturday, before closing out the league season next Tuesday on the road at Madras.

Both league matches are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

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