Crook County earns Special District I championship and play-in bye with 25-11, 25-15, 25-19 win over Ridgeview

The Crook County Cowgirls have left no doubt who the best volleyball team is in the Intermountain Hybrid LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Samantha Kaonis goes up for one of her two kills in the Cowgirls three-set victory over the Ridgeview Ravens Tuesday night. The win guaranteed the Cowgirls the Intermountain Hybrid Conference championship and a bye into the first round of the playoffs.

Tuesday night, the Cowgirls rolled past the visiting Ridgeview Ravens 25-11, 25-15, 25-19 to take first place in both the Intermountain Hybrid League and Special District I.

“That was kind of fun,” said Crook County Head Coach Rosie Honl following the contest. “I’ve been nervous for two days about this game.”

The game between two of the top teams in Class 4A was expected to be close. A month earlier, the Cowgirls were forced to rally from a two-set deficit to narrowly win a five-set thriller over the Ravens. Tuesday night was a different story. The Cowgirls were hitting on all cylinders as they rolled out to an easy win in the first set of the match, and never trailed the entire evening.

“I think our team has made huge progress,” said outside hitter Hannah Troutman. “We’ve been really clicking as a team. All of our hitters and setters are clicking. Our defense is just unbelievable. I think this win just shows us what we can do and what our potential is.”

Troutman was largely instrumental in the Cowgirls’ quick start. The senior had nine kills in just 11 attempts in the first set of the match, setting the tone of the evening. Although Troutman had a monster night, finishing with 25 kills, 19 digs, and a 9-10 night from the service line, she was quick to credit the team for the win.

“I don’t think tonight was individual,” she said. “We have been getting better every day and we work really well as a team.”

Honl agreed.

“They cut down their errors,” she said. “They were almost error free that first game. Just two errors — a serving error and a hitting error, that was it. Our young kids are playing better and better.”

Crook County led just 8-6 in the set before going on a tear. The Cowgirls scored six consecutive points to break the game open and cruised from there.

Crook County was even more impressive to open the second set, rolling to an 8-0 LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Cheyenne Camara passes the ball during the Cowgirls win over the Ravens. The win gave the Cowgirls first place in Special District I. The Cowgirls finished the regular season with a 22-5 record and are in second place in the final OSAA Class 4A power rankings of the year.

“It felt really powerful to start out that strong,” said senior middle blocker Kathryn Kaonis. “We needed to do that at the beginning of the season.”

Once the Cowgirls had the big lead, they seemed to relax and the Ravens were able to make a brief run before the Cowgirls were able to put the set away. Although the third set was closer, the Cowgirls were still in control.

Karlee Hollis finished with 10 kills for the Cowgirls, while Kathryn Kaonis added seven kills. Aspen Christiansen came up with 15 digs, while Laken Berlin added eight. Abby Smith and Kayla Hamilton each finished with 24 assists for the Cowgirls. However, it was at the service line that the team really took control of the match. The team was 69-74 from the service line with six aces in the contest. Hollis was a perfect 17-17, while Jennifer Roth was 17-18 and Christiansen was 13-14.

Katrina Johnson finished the match with 13 kills to lead the Ravens while Rhian Sage finished with 19 assists and was 11-11 from the service line.

With the victory, the Cowgirls finished the Intermountain Hybrid season with a 9-1 record. The team is 22-5 overall and ranked second in the final Class 4A power rankings.

Ridgeview finished the regular season with a 7-3 Intermountain Hybrid record and are 18-5 overall. The Ravens, who are ranked eighth in the final power rankings, host North Bend (11-7) in a play-in match on Saturday.

The Cowgirls don’t play again until Saturday, Nov. 2, when they host a first-round playoff match against a team yet to be determined.

“I’m really excited that we don’t have to have a play-in game and that somebody has to come here in the first round of the playoffs,” Honl said. “That’s really key for us right now.”

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