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Cowgirls take just one set from No. 1 ranked Ridgeview Ravens as Ridgeview clinches league title

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - From left to right, McKenzie Jonas, Kenna Woodward, Anna Woodward, Lily Cooper, Stormie Camara and Kacie Stafford celebrate after a key point in the third set of the Cowgirls match with Ridgeview. The Ravens went on to win in four sets.A slow start proved costly as the Crook County Cowgirls dropped a close match to the No. 1-ranked Ridgeview Ravens Tuesday night in Redmond.

The Cowgirls dropped the first two sets of the match before coming back to take the third set. However, it wasn't enough, as Ridgeview rebounded to close out the match in the fourth set with a 25-17, 25-15, 16-25, 25-18 victory over the sixth-ranked Cowgirls.

"To come back after two games against a good team and take the third game, that says something about our team's character and resilience," said Crook County head coach Kristy Struck following the match. "I'm so proud of our team."

Ridgeview scored first in the opening set, jumping out to a 2-0 lead.

The Cowgirls tied the set three times early on before Ridgeview slowly pulled away.

Ridgeview opened up a 21-6 lead in the second set before the Cowgirls finally started rolling.

A call the Cowgirls disputed pushed the Ridgeview lead to 24-10; however, it seemed to shift momentum for the entire match.

The Cowgirls scored the next five points before Ridgeview was finally able to close out the set.

Then the Cowgirls continued to roll, running out to a 19-12 lead in the third set. When the Cowgirls finally won the set on a kill by Lily Cooper, Crook County was back in the match.

"It felt pretty good to come back in that third set," libero Kacie Stafford said after the match. "We showed that we are also one of the best teams in the state. I think we got it together and played a lot better."

Crook County continued to roll early in the fourth set, taking a 4-2 lead before Ridgeview once again began to take advantage of their size advantage.

With Rylee Troutman and Susanna Bailey blasting booming kills, Ridgeview finally tied the set at 6-6.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kenna Woodward tips the ball for a kill against a Ridgeview blocker. Woodward led the Cowgirls in kills with 13 in the match.Then, on a hard-fought point, Crook County outside hitter Kendal Maycutt dove for a ball and landed awkwardly. Ridgeview eventually earned the point while Maycutt was helped off the court and did not return to the match.

Ridgeview then scored nine of the next 10 points as they ran out to a 15-7 lead.

Crook County attempted to battle back but could get no closer than seven points as the Ravens closed out the match.

Middle blocker Kenna Woodward had an outstanding match for the Cowgirls, finishing with 13 kills.

However, she was the lone Cowgirl with more than five kills. Crook County mustered just 31 kills as a team.

Meanwhile, the taller Ridgeview team blasted 52 kills in the match, with Troutman leading the way with 27 and Bailey adding 11.

Crook County was able to keep the match close despite the hitting advantage for Ridgeview because of their strong serving. Stormie Camara went 18-19 from the service line with three aces, while Stafford was 13-13 with a pair of aces. Woodward and Syrie Ossenkop each added three aces as well.

Crook County also played great defense most of the night, with Stafford leading the way with 25 digs.

"This match was something that we can build on, and it only goes up from here," Stafford said. "We just have to push harder than we've been pushing and play like we know how to play."

With the win, Ridgeview clinched the Intermountain Conference title with a 20-4 overall record and a 9-0 conference mark, while the Cowgirls dropped to 18-8 overall and 6-3 in conference play.

Crook County is currently tied with Pendleton for second place in the league. However, the Buckaroos still have to play Ridgeview, while Crook County closed out their season on Thursday with a home match against the Redmond Panthers, 6-13, 1-8.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Stormie Camara receives a serve on Tuesday during the Cowgirls' four-set loss to the No. 1-ranked Ridgeview Ravens. Crook County closed out the regular season on Thursday with a home match against Redmond. Should the Cowgirls win as expected and the Buckaroos fall to the Ravens, Crook County would finish in second place in the conference.

Regardless of what happens in the two games, Ridgeview, Crook County and Pendleton have all wrapped up postseason berths.

The Ravens should head into the postseason with the No. 1 ranking, while the Cowgirls are currently sixth and Pendleton 11th.

Following Thursday's match, the Cowgirls will have to wait to see who their first round opponent will be.

The rankings will freeze at 10 p.m. Wednesday, October 29. Later that night or early Thursday morning, the OSAA will release the brackets for the state tournament.

The Cowgirls are tentatively scheduled to host a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Saturday, Nov. 2.

Should Crook County win that match, they will move on to the state tournament Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9, at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

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