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Crook County wins the first set, but is unable to keep the momentum as Ridgeview comes back to take a four-set victory

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kenna Woodward blasts a ball through a triple block from Ridgeview on Tuesday. Woodward led Crook County in kills in the match with 14, but Ridgeview found a way to win the match in four sets to take over sole possession of first place in the Intermountain Conference. The Crook County Cowgirls and the Ridgeview Ravens battled on the court for Intermountain Conference volleyball supremacy Tuesday evening in Prineville.

"I was excited to play," said Crook County right-side hitter Liz Barker. "We jammed out in the team room before the match and we were so excited for this game. We came out strong too."

With the winner gaining sole possession of first place in the conference, both teams came out ready to play.

In a fiercely contested battle, the Ridgeview Ravens eventually came out on top. After dropping the first set, they won the next three to take a four-set victory over the Cowgirls.

"We played tough for three sets," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said following the match. "We played really well. We were relatively error free and then we just mentally broke down in that last set."

The Cowgirls won a tight first set 26-24 before Ridgeview came back to win the next three 25-21, 25-22, 25-15.

Crook County took the lead early in the first set, and although the set was tight throughout, the Cowgirls never trailed.

After the Ravens tied the match at 24-24, Struck called time out and the Cowgirls responded, scoring the next two points on kills by Barker and Kendall Maycutt.

Maycutt's hit was initially called out, but was eventually overturned, giving the Cowgirls the point and the set.

With a raucous home crowd cheering on every point, the Cowgirls took the lead again to start the second set.

"The crowd was wonderful," Barker said. "I loved it. I want it every game, it's just the best thing about the game because, even if you are down, the crowd gets you hyped up again."

Once again, the set stayed close throughout. However, this time, the Ravens were finally able to take the lead late in the set when outside hitter Susanna Bailey went on a tear, blasting four consecutive kills to give the Ravens a 20-18 lead.

Kills by Kenna Woodward and Barker kept the Cowgirls close, but Ridgeview put the set away on a booming kill by Rylee Troutman.

Once again the Cowgirls took the lead to start the third set, and once again, the Ravens kept the set close.

A Ridgeview block on a Maycutt hit tied the match at 8-8. A spike by Troutman gave the Ravens their first lead of the set at 9-8.

From there the two teams traded points in a set that was tied eight times Ridgeview finally took the lead for good on a controversial play.

With the score tied at 19 apiece, Maycutt served what would have been an ace. However, Crook County was called for being out of rotation and the point was given to Ridgeview.

After a brief discussion, the call stood and Ridgeview held a 20-19 lead.

The Cowgirls never recovered as Ridgeview went on to close out the set 25-22 on a kill by Bailey.

After leading for most of each of the first three sets, the Cowgirls got off to a slow start in the fourth and final set.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Anna Woodward finished with 36 assists and 10 digs Tuesday night in the Cowgirls' match with the Ridgeview Ravens. Ridgeview won in four sets to take sole possession of first place in the IMC.Ridgeview took a 4-0 lead, and led by scores of 8-2 and 12-4 before the Cowgirls tried to rally.

However, the Cowgirls were never able to get closer than eight points as the Ravens rolled to the 25-15 win.

"Once we broke down mentally in that last set, our passing suffered and then our hitting suffers," Struck said. "It makes it tough to run an offense when you are not going to pass well and do all the little things. If we can't serve and serve receive well, we are going to struggle on the offensive end and tonight that was every evident, especially in that fourth set."

Despite being triple blocked for most of the night, Kenna Woodward led the Cowgirls with 14 kills on just 30 attempts. Although she struggled in the final two sets, Maycutt was also in double figures in kills with 10, while Barker added seven and McKenzie Jonas pitched in with six.

Troutman led all hitters with 24 kills for the Ravens, while Bailey finished with 18.

Kacie Stafford led the Cowgirls in digs with 16, while Anna Wooodward added 10, and Stormie Camara, Lily Cooper and Kenna Woodward all finished with seven.

Once again, serving was outstanding for the Cowgirls, who had just four service errors all night as they went 83-87 serving as a team.

Camara was a perfect 19-19 from the service line with an ace, while Lily Cooper was also perfect going 14-14 with two aces. In addition, Stafford was 17-18 with an ace and Kenna Woodward went 13-14 with a pair of aces.

"The first three games were amazing,:" Barker said. "We did everything good. That fourth game we just didn't do the little things. If we do that, then we will be good. The effort was pretty good, though. We'll beat them next time."

With the win, Ridgeview improved to 10-3 overall and 4-0 in IMC play, while the Cowgirls fell to 9-3 and 3-1.

However, Crook County actually moved up from fifth to fourth in the latest OSAA power rankings, while the Ravens remained in third place.

"I couldn't be more proud of my girls," Struck said. "They played tough tonight and fought hard. They are a resilient team and probably the nicest group of girls that I've been privileged to coach."

The Cowgirls played at Redmond, 2-6, 0-4, on Thursday. They travel to Gresham on Saturday for the Barlow Invitational, then resume league play on Tuesday, Oct. 8, when they host The Dalles Riverhawks, 7-4, 2-2, in a 6:30 p.m. match.

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