Cowgirls get league title via tie-breaker
The Crook County High School volleyball team had a big week last week, going 2-1, but clinching the Intermountain Conference regular season championship in the process.
"It was a good week," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said. "Honestly, I feel like it is tough having an indoor sport right now. The weather is starting to turn nice, and the kids want to be outside, so the mental focus isn't where it should be. We are going to work on next week in practice."
Tuesday was senior night, and the Cowgirls rolled past Pendleton in straight sets. Thursday, the Cowgirls were edged by Ridgeview in four sets, then Saturday, Crook County overwhelmed The Dalles, in straight sets as well.
"It was really tough," senior Liz Barker said of the emotions of senior night. "All of us seniors were really scared and nervous and sad it was our senior night, but we came out with a lot of energy, and I was really happy with how we played."
The Cowgirls rolled out to an early 7-1 lead in set one Tuesday at home against Pendleton. The Cowgirls were never seriously challenged in the set as they rolled to a 25-17 win. The Cowgirls fell behind early in set two, trailing 6-0 before they were able to regroup. The Cowgirls tied the set at nine points apiece, then took the lead for good on a kill by McKenzie Jonas to take a 10-9 lead as they rolled to the 25-15 lead. Crook County led from the beginning in set three, but could never shake the Buckaroos, finally putting the set away 25-21 on a kill by Liz Barker.
Jonas led the Cowgirls in kills with 12 and in blocks with six. She was also a perfect 7-0 from the service line. Kendall Maycutt and Barker each finished with eight kills, while Kacie Stafford and Syrie Ossenkop had four. Jaycee Villastrigo was a perfect 19-19 from the service line with three aces, while Jenny McKinnon was 10-10, Stafford 13-13 and Maycutt 12-12 with an ace.
Villastrigo led the team in digs with 15 while Stafford had 11. McKinnon finished with 39 assists.
On Wednesday, the Cowgirls took the opening set against Ridgeview 25-18. However, after leading 25-24, the Cowgirls fell 27-25 in set two. The Ravens then took set three 25-21 before closing out the match with a 25-18 win in set three. That set could have been a blowout as Ridgeview led 23-12 before the Cowgirls staged a furious late rally. That rally turned out to be incredibly important as, since the two teams split their matches this season, margin of victory turned out to be the tiebreaker that decided the league title.
Maycutt led the Cowgirls in kills with 11, while Jonas had seven and Stafford and Ossenkop each had four. Jonas had five blocks and Barker finished with two, while McKinnon finished with 32 assists.
McKinnon was a perfect 17-17 serving, while Stafford was 15-15, Jonas went 12-13 and Villastrigo 12-14 with two aces.
Beating The Dalles
Saturday, the Cowgirls jumped out to a big early lead in the first set, scoring the first seven points of the match. However, The Dalles battled back, tying the match 12-12 before the Cowgirls took control, winning the set 25-13.
"I threw a new rotation at them today and that was a little tough for them to figure out, even though we practiced it a little bit last night," Struck said. "It showed a little bit in the first set, but they figured it out and they played really well towards the end."
Crook County then cruised through the next two sets 25-12, 25-7 as they closed out the regular season.
Jonas finished with 12 kills and two blocks. Maycutt added nine kills, while Barker and Stafford each finished with five.
Josie Kasberger was 17-18 from the service line with five aces, while Maycutt was 11-11 with two aces, Ossenkop 15-16 with three aces and Stafford 10-11 with a pair of aces. Villastrigo led the team in digs with 16, while Stafford added 12 and Kasberger eight, while McKinnon once again led the Cowgirls in assists with 31.
"We have hardly any play dates compared to a normal season, so I'm super proud of where they are after only playing our league for three or four weeks," Struck said. "I think we've seen a lot of improvement, both from our team and other teams in the league. I would like to have seen this team in a regular season because I think where they would be now would be even more improved."
Struck added that she is proud of the team's three seniors.
"Certainly, they are leaving the program better than they found it," Struck said. "I'll miss them."
With no state playoffs the Intermountain Conference has elected to hold a district playoff. Tuesday, Pendleton will play Redmond while Hood River Valley will host The Dalles. Crook County will host the winner of the Hood River Valley versus The Dalles game, while Ridgeview will host the winner of Pendleton and Redmond. The winners of the semi-final matches will then meet on Saturday. Thursday's match is tentatively set for 6:30 p.m., although that time is subject to change.
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