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Cowgirls ranked fifth by OSAA after taking down Hood River Valley and Pendleton

PMG PHOTO: LON AUSTIN - Crook County's Josie Kasberger attacks over the Hood River Valley defense during last week's tilt with the Eagles.The Crook County Cowgirl volleyball team had their busiest week so far this year, winning a pair of league matches before struggling Saturday at the always tough South Albany State Preview Tournament.

The Cowgirls rolled past Hood River Valley 25-15, 25-6, 25-21 at home on Tuesday in straight sets, before taking four sets on Thursday to dispatch Pendleton 20-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-15 on the road.

"Those wins were very important because that is what will guarantee us a spot for the state championship playoffs," junior hitter Melanie Rickabaugh said.

Saturday, however, was a different story as the Cowgirls failed to win a match in either pool play or bracket play at South Albany.

On Tuesday, the Cowgirls fell behind early in the first set against Hood River Valley, but quickly regrouped and took control of the match.

Kendall Maykut led Crook County in kills with 11, while McKenzie Jonas had nine on just 18 attempts and Josie Kasberger finished with eight. Mattee Simmons chipped in with four kills. Jaycee Villastrigo finished with 21 digs, while Maykut had 14 and Alexys Wells eight. Jenny McKinnon led Crook County at the service line, going 14-15 with three aces, while Villastrigo was 13-15 with a pair of aces.

On Thursday, Crook County got off to a slow start again, dropping the first set to the Buckaroos. However, the Cowgirls came storming back to take the next three sets and remain undefeated in league play.

Maykut and Jonas each had 15 kills in the match, while Kasberger finished with 14.

Kasberger also had a great night at the service line, going 20-21 with three aces. Maykut went 17-19 from the service line with five aces, while Simmons was 14-15 with an ace, Joann McKinnon went 9-10 with two aces and Jenny McKinnon went 8-9 with four aces.

Villastrigo led the Cowgirls in digs with 23, while Maykut had 10, Kasberger nine, Jenny McKinnon 11 and Wells eight.

"To be successful on Saturday, we need to make all our serves in have good communication on the court and be loud on the court having good passes, sets and hits," Rickabaugh said. "It starts with good passes, which then makes a good set to a good kill."

Unfortunately, although the Cowgirls played well at times on Saturday, they were unable to put together an entire match.

Preview Tournament

Crook County opened pool play with perennial Class 6A power Jesuit. The Cowgirls came out hot, leading most of the first set, before finally falling 26-24 to the Crusaders. The second set was a different story as Jesuit was in control from the start, taking a 25-7 victory. Jesuit went on to win the tournament.

Next up for the Cowgirls was Sprague. This time Crook County got off to a slow start, dropping the first set 25-11. However, the Cowgirls regrouped, taking set two 26-24.

Crook County finished pool play with a match against Class 5A fourth ranked LaSalle. Once again, the Cowgirls came out on the short end of a close match, falling 26-24, 25-22 to LaSalle.

With the three losses in pool play, the Cowgirls dropped to the silver bracket where they played Class 6A Sunset in the quarterfinal round.

Cowgirls won the opening set 25-16, before falling 25-21 in set two. That set up a third set to 15 to advance to the silver bracket semifinals, and the Cowgirls came up just short, falling 15-13 to Sunset, ending their tournament in disappointing fashion.

"We had a tough pool, and competed well," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said following the tournament. "We were lucky to have the opportunity to play quality teams all day. The girls are doing some really great things and improving with every opportunity. Consistency in our play will be the key to our success for the rest of the season."

Despite the loss to Sunset, the Cowgirls moved up from seventh to fifth in the latest OSAA power rankings.

Jenny McKinnon directed the Cowgirl offense all day, finishing the tournament with 71 assists.

Maykut led Crook County in kills with 33, while Jonas had 21 and Kasberger 17. Villastrigo led the team in digs with 43, while Maykut had 23. Jonas led the team in blocks with nine, while Maykut finished with four.

Once again, a number of Cowgirls had solid days from the service line.

Maykutt went 28-30 with eight aces, Villastrigo was 28-29 with six aces and Jenny McKinnon was 23-24 with a pair of aces. Kasberger was also solid from the service line, going 26-29 with three aces, while Joann McKinnon was 18-21 with an ace and Simmons went 17-20 with three aces.

The Cowgirls — 3-0 in league, 7-2 overall — have a big week ahead. Crook County hosts seventh ranked Ridgeview, 3-0, 7-3, tonight, then go on the road on Thursday to play 10th-ranked Redmond, 2-1, 10-5. Both matches are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, the Cowgirls travel to Gresham where they will play in the Mt. Hood Invitational.

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