The host 3A Highlanders make the Crook County High School Cowgirls volleyball team work

The Crook County High School volleyball team started the season off the same way they ended last year – with a win.

However, that doesn't mean that it was easy. The Cowgirls struggled at times as they took four sets to defeat the Burns Highlanders on the road Thursday.

The Cowgirls — who were playing without four-year senior starter Kendall Maykut, who was ill, and sophomore defensive specialist Alexys Wells, who is nursing a hamstring injury — were able to win the opening set 25-22. The host Highlanders came back to take set two 25-20, before the Cowgirls closed out the match with 25-21, 25-23 wins in the third and fourth sets.

"We had to work hard for the win," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said.

The Cowgirls were able to get the victory despite having just 30 kills as a team. McKenzie Jonas led the team's offensive attack with 13 kills, while Josie Kasberger finished with nine, Mattee Simmons three, and Cylie Hartzell and Melanie Rickabaugh finished with two kills each.

It was defense that kept the Cowgirls in the match, and ultimately led to the victory.

Jaycee Villastrigo finished with 21 digs, while Jenny McKinnon added 11, Jonas eight and Rickabaugh seven.

The Cowgirls also did a great job from the service line, hitting 86-93 serves with 13 aces. Jonas went 18-20 with seven aces, while McKinnon was 22-22 with a pair of aces. Kasberger was also solid from the line, going 18-19 with a trio of aces, while Jacey Ramoss was 11-11 and Villastrigo went 11-12 from the service line.

McKinnon led the team in assists with 28. The Cowgirls are on the road again tonight when they take on the Sisters Outlaws. The team plays their first home match on Thursday when they host Philomath. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

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