Cowgirls place fourth at state tournament
The Crook County Cowgirls struggled Friday in a loss to Corvallis in the quarterfinals of the OSAA Class 5A State Volleyball Championships.
However, the Cowgirls rebounded in fine fashion, winning their next two matches on their way to a fourth-place finish at this year's state tournament, which was held Friday and Saturday at Liberty High School in Eugene.
"It was a big improvement from last year," said Crook County senior middle blocker Kenna Woodward following the match. "Bringing home some hardware, it's worth the journey. We could have stayed a little more steady, a little stronger, but I'm happy with the wins."
Following the close loss to Corvallis, the Cowgirls rolled past La Salle Prep and Thurston on Saturday to capture the fourth-place trophy.
The Cowgirls got off to a hot start on Friday afternoon against Corvallis, winning the first set. However, Crook County could not maintain the momentum as the Spartans came back to take the next three sets, taking an 18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19 victory over the Cowgirls.
Crook County had plenty of chances to win the match. After firing on all cylinders in the opening set, the Cowgirls struggled to get going in the second set as Corvallis raced out to a big early lead.
Crook County rallied, but could never get closer than seven points as Corvallis evened the match.
The third set could have gone either way, but the Spartans did just enough to edge Crook County by two.
Crook County got off to a slow start again in the third set, before mounting a furious rally.
After trailing early by double-digits, Crook County went on a roll late, closing to 24-19.
However, on the final play of the match, Woodward hit a shot that appeared to go off a blocker from Corvallis and out of bounds. Unfortunately for the Cowgirls, the officials did not call a touch, ruling the shot to be a hitting error, ending the set and the match.
Crook County was led by Woodward with 11 kills, while Cooper finished with seven, Jonas and Maycutt both added six and Barker chipped in with five.
Despite the balanced attack, the Cowgirls struggled with their hitting, managing just a .112 hitting percentage for the match.
Kacie Stafford had an incredible 56 digs to lead the Cowgirl defense, while Woodward added 24.
As a team, the Cowgirls hit 90.6% of their serves, with eight aces.
Cooper was a perfect 14-14, while Stormie Camara went 13-13. Jenny McKinnon finished with five aces, however, she also had three service errors in the match.
"We did not play our best against Corvallis," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said. "I'm never disappointed in our girls. I'm disappointed that I didn't make some changes sooner. But, I'm happy with the way that the tournament finished. They got two wins and that makes me pretty happy."
Last year, following a tough quarterfinal loss, the Cowgirls played poorly in the opening round of consolation play, falling in straight sets to Crater.
With Struck in her first year as head coach, this year was very different.
The team started slowly Saturday morning against La Salle Prep, falling behind in the opening set.
However, the team mounted a relentless comeback, finally taking the lead for good at 19-18.
Although the remainder of the match was close, the Cowgirls were in control throughout as they swept La Salle Prep 25-21, 25-16, 25-21 to advance to Saturday afternoon's fourth-place match.
The Cowgirls were stronger both hitting and serving against La Salle Prep.
As a team, Crook County hit .247, blasting 37 kills in just 85 attempts with only 10 errors.
Woodward led the way with 10 kills, while Maycutt finished with eight and Barker six.
Meanwhile, the team hit nearly 95% of their serves with Stafford, 13-13, Cooper, 12-12 and Camara, 15-15 all having perfect matches from the service line.
In addition, the team finished with 13 aces, as tough serving kept La Salle Prep from getting into their offense the entire match.
Woodward finished with four aces, while Stafford, McKinnon, Maycutt and Cooper all had two aces.
With La Salle Prep unable to run their offense effectively, the Cowgirl defense had far fewer digs than against Corvallis.
Stafford led the team with 13 digs, while Cooper had 11 and Woodward finished with 10.
The Cowgirls continued to play well in the fourth-place match against Thurston.
Crook County won the first set 25-18, then took set two, 25-16. Thurston rebounded to take set three, 25-19, however the Cowgirls never looked rattled and kept their poise the entire match as they edged the Colts 25-21 in the fourth and final set.
"Of course, we would like to get first," Woodward said. "But coming from last year, especially with this group of girls, they were pretty happy with fourth place. We had some ups and downs, but overall, I think we were pretty competitive and it's been fun."
Once again, the Cowgirls rode tough serving to the victory, hitting on 92.4% of their serves as a team with 12 aces. Woodward went 13-13, while Maycutt was 17-18 with four aces and Cooper was 21-24 with six aces.
The Cowgirls also hit well against Thurston, hitting at a .192 percentage with Maycutt leading the way with 12 kills. Woodward added 10 kills, while McKenzie Jonas and Cooper each finished with six.
Anna Woodward finished with 98 assists in the tournament as she directed the Cowgirls' offense, while Kenna Woodward had 31 kills in the tournament.
Stafford finished the tournament with 82 digs to lead the Cowgirl defense.
"I'm pretty happy with my girls," Struck said. "I would never bet against the Cowgirls. I always think that we are right there, knocking on the door."
Kenna Woodward was named to the all-tournament second team, while the Cowgirls also won the tournament sportsmanship award.
"The sportsmanship award means a lot," Struck said. "I'm so proud of them, how they conducted themselves. We had some hiccups, but I just couldn't be more proud of the girls for how they played as a team and how they played with class, grit and determination."
Intermountain Conference rival Ridgeview went on to win the state title, defeating Wilsonville in straight sets to win the championship, while Corvallis edged West Albany for third place.
Ridgeview's Rylee Troutman was named to the all-tournament first team along with Clarissa Klein and Kennedy Juranek of Wilsonville, Ryann Gregg and Neveah Bray of Corvallis and Alexis Hobie of North Eugene.
Joining Woodward on the second team were Elijah Sanders, Hanna Stadstad and Sydney Backer of West Albany, Ashli Edmiston of Wilsonville and Ally Henry of Ridgeview.
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