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Cowgirls need some things to break their way, but a league title could be coming

PMG PHOTO: LON AUSTIN - Crook County libero Jaycee Villastrigo passes during the Cowgirls' three-set win over Pendleton last week.It was a mixed week for the Crook County High School volleyball team. Tuesday and Thursday, the Cowgirls cruised to easy league victories. Then, on Saturday at the West Linn Invitational, Crook County struggled for most of the day before finally winning their final two matches.

Tuesday, on the road, the Cowgirls led wire to wire as they rolled past Hood River Valley 25-11, 25-8, 25-13.

As has happened much of the year, the Cowgirls did much of their damage at the service line, going 69-75 as a team, with 13 aces in the match. Mattee Simmons had a huge impact from the service line, going 25-25 with four aces in the match. Simmons was so dominant from the service line that she served most of one of the sets in the match. Jenny McKinnon also had a solid night from the service line, going 11-13 with six aces. Joann McKinnon was a perfect 8-8 from the service line, while Kendall Maykut went 8-9 with an ace, and Jaycee Villastrigo went 8-10 with an ace.

PMG PHOTO: LON AUSTIN - Crook County's Kendall Maykut attacks against Pendleton during last week's three-set victory for the Cowgirls.McKenzie Jonas led the Cowgirl offensive attack with 14 kills, while Josie Kasberger finished with eight and Maykut four. Villastrigo led Crook County in digs with 17, while Jenny McKinnon led the team in assists with 28. Haven Housley led the team in blocks with three, while Jonas had two.

Thursday was just nearly as easy for the Cowgirls, who dominated Pendleton at home, taking a 25-10, 25-9, 25-22 victory over the Buckaroos.

The Cowgirls never trailed in the first two sets but fell behind early in set three before they were able to come back to take the win.

Once again, Crook County did much of the damage at the service line, going 72-74 with 16 aces.

Simmons was a perfect 20-20 with four aces, while Maykut went 14-14 with four aces, Villastrigo 14-14 with two aces, and Kasberger 12-12 with two aces.

Jonas led the Cowgirls in kills with 17, while Maykut and Kasberger each had 10. Villastrigo finished with 16 digs, while Jenny McKinnon had 38 assists.

The Cowgirls work on both serving and service receive every day in practice, and that work appears to be paying dividends.

"I think that it has helped us serving every day at being consistent and just passing and being mindful in practice and doing everything repetitively every day," Simmons said. "I'm happy about my serving and getting runs on serving."

With the league wins, the Cowgirls improved to 7-1 in Intermountain Conference play, solidifying their hold on second place. Both The Dalles and Pendleton dropped to 2-6 in conference play.

Playing against many of the top teams in Class 6A on Saturday, the Cowgirls failed to hit their stride until late in the day.

Crook County dropped their opening pool play match 29-27, 27-25 to Roseburg, then lost their next pool play match 25-16, 25-11 to Jesuit.

Those losses dropped the Cowgirls to the bronze bracket at the tournament, a bracket that the team is not familiar with as they generally compete in either the gold or silver bracket.

Crook County opened bracket play against Sunset and once again struggled to gain traction, falling 25-23, 25-17 to Sunset. However, the Cowgirls picked things up from that point on, easily dispatching Lincoln 25-13, 25-20 before slipping past Canby 25-17, 25-18 to close out the day.

With pool play matches not counting in either a team's overall record or the OSAA power rankings, that means that Crook County officially went 2-1 on the day, pushing their overall record to 13-6 and maintaining their 10th place in the power rankings.

With two matches remaining in the regular season, Crook County still has a lot to play for.

The Cowgirls are on the road tonight against Ridgeview, 8-0 in league and 12-4 overall. The team then closes out the regular season at home against Redmond, 5-3, 14-8 on Thursday. Ridgeview defeated Crook County in a five-set thriller earlier in the year. Should Crook County defeat Ridgeview tonight by more points than the Ravens defeated Crook County by earlier in the year, then defeat Redmond, that would make the Cowgirls IMC champions and would guarantee them a first round home playoff match.

However, with the relatively low ranking, should the Cowgirls fail to win the league championship, they would probably be on the road for the first round of the playoffs.

Either way, with the new playoff format for this year, and a power ranking that will not go higher than eighth, should Crook County advance past the first round of the playoffs, they would almost certainly be on the road for the quarterfinals.

Both matches are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.


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