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It was an up and down day for the Crook County, which failed to reach the gold bracket for the first time this season

The Crook County Cowgirls struggled early Saturday but showed progress as play went on at the Clearwater Classic Volleyball Tournament in BLON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Cassidy Dill hits a kill during bracket play against Sandy, while the rest of the Cowgirls cover her. Dill led Crook County in kills with 33 in the tournament. end.

Despite their struggles, the Cowgirls made it to the silver bracket, where they reached the semifinals before finally being eliminated.

The Cowgirls played the tournament without head coach Rosie Honl, who had a family commitment, and without middle blocker Kenna Woodward, who sat out with a minor injury.

Crook County got off to a rocky start as they were blasted by then Class 5A fifth-ranked Sandy.

The Cowgirls looked like they were sleep walking as the Pioneers took the opening set of pool play 25-13. Crook County played better in the second set, but still lost 25-20.

Crook County rebounded to take their second match of pool play, defeating South Medford 25-21, 25-21. South Medford scored to take a 21-20 lead in the second set before the Cowgirls closed out the match by scoring the final five points.

In their final match of pool play, the Cowgirls played Central Catholic, which is ranked third in Class 6A.

The taller Rams led throughout, as they took a 25-19, 25-15 win over the Cowgirls.

With a 2-4 record in pool play, the Cowgirls waited anxiously to see whether they would fall to the silver or bronze bracket.

It was the first time all season that Crook County failed to reach the gold bracket at a tournament.

After a short wait, the Cowgirls found out that they were in the sliver bracket and would be facing Sandy in the quarterfinals.

Sandy pulled away late to take the first set of the match 25-18. However, Crook County rebounded to win set two 25-21, setting up a third and final set to 15.

In volleyball, you have to win by two points, and that came into play as the two teams were tied 12-12, 13-13, 14-14 and 15-15.

The two teams continued to trade points as Crook County would take a lead, then Sandy would tie the match. With the score tied 17-17, Kennedy Buckner blasted a kill, then Buckner and Cassidy Dill combined on a huge block to end the match as the Cowgirls took a 19-17 win.

The victory moved the Cowgirls into the semifinals against the West Salem Titans.

The Titans, who are one of the tallest teams in the state, used their height to good advantage as they eliminated the Cowgirls from the tournament with a 25-18, 25-20 win.

Dill finished with 37 kills to lead the Crook County offense, while Raegan Wilkins added 33, Kerigan Waibel finished with 30, and Buckner added 13.

Mekynzie Wells led the Crook County defense with 90 digs, while Dill and Anna Woodward each had 30.

Stormie Camara led the Cowgirls from the service line, going 41-44 with 10 aces. Waibel was nearly as good, going 42-44 with six aces.

The Cowgirls are now 10-9 on the season. More importantly, they have moved up to 11th in the power rankings.

Crook County is back in action tonight when they host the winless Gladstone Gladiators in a key league matchup.

Should Crook County win as expected, they would wrap up their fourth consecutive league championship.

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