Cowgirls one win away from state tournament berth
The Crook County Cowgirls look to make another deep playoff run in 2019.
The Cowgirls finished second in the Intermountain Conference, and have earned a home match against Ashland Saturday afternoon in the first round of the state playoffs.
The match is tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The Cowgirls enter the playoffs with a 19-8 record and a 7-3 mark in the Intermountain Conference.
The Cowgirls are currently ranked fifth in the final OSAA power rankings. Coming into the final day of the regular season, the Grizzlies were ranked 10th in the power rankings. However, Ashland fell all the way to 12th Tuesday night after falling to Thurston in their final league match of the season.
Ashland sports a 15-7 overall record and a 12-4 league mark and sits in fourth place in the Midwestern league.
Ashland and Crook County have faced each other multiple times this year in tournaments. However, other than one meeting, they have met in pool play, which has not counted in either team's record.
The two teams have split in pool play. The lone meeting that counts in the standings occurred on Saturday, Oct. 12 when the two teams met in the silver bracket of the Clearwater Classic.
Ashland and Crook County met early in the day in pool play with the Grizzlies taking the match.
However, in bracket play, the Cowgirls turned the table defeating the Grizzlies in straight sets 25-14, 26-24.
With the two teams familiar with each other, Saturday's match should be close.
The Grizzlies have some height with junior Ania Farmer and sophomore Amelia Evans both listed at 6-0, while senior Jessica Crane is 5-10.
For the Cowgirls, opposite hitter Liz Barker is 6-0, while middle blocker Kenna Woodward is 5-11.
Crook County has plenty of playoff experience as all but two players on the roster played in the state playoffs a year ago.
Several Cowgirls have four years of playoff experience.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies failed to make the state playoffs a year ago.
Last season was the first year since 2006 that the Cowgirls failed to earn a trophy at the state tournament, so the team is looking to get back on top.
However, the Cowgirls will have their work cut out for them should they hope to earn a trophy.
Defending state champion Corvallis, 16-4, enters the tournament ranked fourth, while last year's runner up Ridgeview Ravens, 21-4, currently hold the top spot in the power rankings, as well as earning first place in the Intermountain Conference.
The Ravens defeated the Cowgirls in both of their league meetings, although Crook County was able to win a set in each match.
Other teams to watch for include No. 2-ranked Wilsonville, 20-2, and No. 3-ranked West Albany, 21-3.
West Albany finished third a year ago while Wilsonville played in the consolation finals at last year's state tournament.
Other teams of note include sixth-ranked North Eugene, 15-5, seventh-ranked South Albany, 16-7, eighth-ranked Thurston, 15-6, and ninth-ranked Crater, 16-4.
The Class 5A tournament is a 16-team bracket with the top eight teams hosting first round playoff matches.
The winner of Saturday's match between Ashland and Crook County will advance to the state tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8-9 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
Both the Class 6A and 5A tournaments will be held at Liberty, with Class 6A matches beginning at 8 a.m., while the Class 5A quarterfinals are scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m. where the winner of Saturday's match will face the winner of a match between Corvallis and St. Helens.
The winners of Friday's games will play in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday night, while the losers will not play again until the first round of consolation play, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Play continues throughout the day on Saturday and concludes with the championship match, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday night. The Class 6A championship round is not scheduled to begin until 8:30 p.m. Saturday evening.
The Class 6A tournament, which featured a 32-team bracket, started Wednesday night.
Central Oregon teams Bend, Mountain View and Summit all reached the state tournament with both Bend and Summit hosting first-round matches.
Jesuit is ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, with Central Catholic second, Mountainside third, Sheldon fourth, West Linn fifth, and Sprague sixth.
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