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Cowgirls improve to 8-1 overall, while winning 24 of the 28 sets they have played so far this year

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Liz Barker blasts the ball for a kill last Tuesday against Hood River Valley while Jenny McKinnon covers. Barker had seven kills against Pendleton on Thursday as the Cowgirls won in straight sets. The Crook County Cowgirls continued their strong play, rolling past Pendleton in straight sets Thursday night.

The visiting Cowgirls were in control the entire night as they whipped the Buckaroos 25-17, 25-15, 25-11 to move to 3-0 in Intermountain Conference play.

"The girls played good, consistent ball all night," said Crook County head coach Kristy Struck. "They made very few errors. They worked together really well as a team and looked solid all night."

According to Struck, the Cowgirls, who have relied on strong serving to generate their scoring punch for much of the season, had a less than stellar serving night.

Instead, the Cowgirls were able to win by keeping the ball in play and not making mistakes.

Using sharp passes, excellent defense and a solid offensive attack, the Cowgirls left no doubt who was the better team.

As the match went on, Crook County slowly wore down the Buckaroos, winning each set by a larger margin than the one before.

Libero Kacie Stafford led the Cowgirl defensive effort with 20 digs while a trio of Cowgirls led the offensive attack.

Kenna Woodward finished with nine kills, while Lily Cooper and Liz Barker each chipped in with seven.

No other stats were available from the night as Struck said that the win was a total team effort, with everyone contributing to the team's success.

With the win, fourth-ranked Crook County improved to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play.

Perhaps even more impressively, Crook County has won 24 sets and lost just four the entire season.

Meanwhile, the 11th-ranked Buckaroos fell to 4-5 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

Thursday's victory sets up a showdown with the Ridgeview Ravens. The Ravens, who finished second at state a year ago, are currently ranked fifth in the OSAA power rankings and are sporting a 9-3 overall record and a 3-0 Intermountain Conference mark.

The Ravens' three losses have all come to Class 6A programs.

Like Crook County, Ridgeview played in the Rogue Valley Classic on Saturday, Sept. 20. The Cowgirls tied for third in the tournament after falling to North Medford in the semifinals. Crook County won the first set, but then dropped the next two.

Meanwhile, the Ravens reached the finals before also falling to North Medford in three sets.

Crook County played at the State Preview Tournament in South Albany over the weekend, while Ridgeview took the weekend off.

The two teams will meet in Prineville Tuesday night, with the winner moving into sole possession of first place in the IMC.

The two schools already have a big gap over the rest of the conference with no other team having more than one league win.

Volleyball will start with JV matches at 5 p.m. with the varsity match scheduled to follow at 6:30 p.m.

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