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CCHS volleyball, as per usual, has a tough scheduled filled with tournaments

LON AUSTIN - Crook County volleyball players participate in serving drills during their opening day of fall practice Monday morning. Fall sports got underway this week, mostly with afternoon practices. The volleyball team, last year's Intermountain Conference regular season and tournament champions, open against Sisters on Aug. 31.

It's time to start getting excited about Cowgirl volleyball again, as Crook County High School has announced its varsity schedule for the fall season. 

Fresh off a 5A Intermountain Conference title in the shortened spring season, head coach Kristy Struck and her team will look to defend their league crown this fall. Team practices officially kicked on Monday, and the squad will start preparing for its preseason endowment match against Burns on Aug. 26. While that match won't count toward the season's win-loss column, it will give the coaching staff a chance to see how this year's roster stacks up against a real opponent. 

The first official varsity match of the season comes on Tuesday, Aug. 31, when the Cowgirls travel to take on the Sisters Outlaws. That match is followed immediately by Crook County's first home match on Sept. 2, against Philomath. The team also has a trip to Eugene scheduled for Sept. 9, when they will take on Marist to finish up the early non-league campaign. 

In addition to those matches outside the Intermountain Conference, the Cowgirls will also take part in a few multi-team weekend events that do not count toward the league record but will challenge the squad. The first of these events is the Rogue Valley Classics, which will be held in Medford on Sept. 18. The next event is the South Albany State Preview on Sept. 25, followed by the Mt. Hood Invite at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham on Oct. 2. The squad will be a bit closer to home on Oct. 9, as they head to Bend for the Clearwater Classics event being hosted by the Lava Bears. The last regular-season tournament comes on Oct. 16, as the team travels to West Linn. 

The grueling tournament run will certainly toughen the Cowgirls for Intermountain Conference schedule, which will start on Sept. 16 when the Cowgirls travel north to The Dalles. Crook County's first home game against a conference opponent comes on Sept. 21, when the team hosts Hood River Valley for a match at the CCHS gym, followed immediately by a road tilt on Sept. 23 out in Pendleton. 

Between the South Albany State Preview and the Mt. Hood Invite, Crook County will take on the Redmond schools. First, the Cowgirls host Ridgeview on Sept. 28, and then the team hits the road to take on Redmond on their turf. The week following the Mt. Hood Invite is a light one for the team, with just one midweek match scheduled — an Oct. 7 match at home against The Dalles to start the second half of league play. 

The week after that, Crook County returns their matches with Hood River Valley and Pendleton, with the Oct. 12 contest against the Eagles happening on the road before the Cowgirls host the Buckaroos on Oct. 14 in Prineville. The regular season wraps up with the Redmond schools again, with CCHS first going on the road to face Ridgeview on Oct. 19 before returning home for the finale against Redmond on Oct. 21. 

While the achievements of last year's Cowgirl squad shouldn't be overlooked, it will be exciting to watch the program try to defend its league title this fall — and they may take home even more hardware, with the OSAA State Championships currently back on a normal schedule.

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