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Crook County High School doesn't serve or hit well against the bigger Wildcats

LON AUSTIN - Josie Kasberger goes up for a kill during the Cowgirls' playoff match in Wilsonville. The Cowgirls had an off night and lost the match in straight sets.For the first time in more than 15 years, the Crook County Cowgirls will not get a chance to play at the state volleyball tournament.

The Cowgirls came close on Saturday, but fell on the road to the Wilsonville Wildcats in the first round of the state playoffs, ending the Crook County season.

Although Crook County lost in straight sets, the team was in the match to the final point.

"It's a tough loss, but they gave me everything they had," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said of the Cowgirls' 25-22, 25-23, 25-17 defeat.

Crook County held the lead for most of the first set of the match before three consecutive service errors cost Crook County the set. The two teams were tied 10 times in the second set before Wilsonville scored the final two points of the set to take the win.

Leading two sets to none, the Wildcats flexed their muscle in the third and final set, jumping out to an 11-5 lead. Crook County tried to come back, and an ace by Joann McKinnon closed the team to within just three points at 15-12. However, that was as close as they would get as Wilsonville was able to close out the match on a thunderous kill by Ashli Edmiston. Edmiston finished the match with 16 kills to lead all hitters.

However, Crook County's McKenzie Jonas had 15 kills on just 26 attempts, with no hitting errors to hit an incredible .577 percentage. Jonas had the monster hitting game despite splitting her chin open early in the match so badly that she had to go to the emergency room following the match for stitches. Jonas also had two blocks in the match.

"Even though we didn't make it past the first round of the playoffs, I think that we fought our hardest and we tried our best," Jonas said. "I do feel good about how close we played them. I think we worked our hardest and even though they are a bigger and better team, we tried to focus on the little things and did our best. I am just really proud of us that we made it this far and that we worked this hard to get here."

Unfortunately, the remainder of the Crook County hitters all struggled, with Josie Kasberger picking up eight kills and Kendall Maykut two for all the kills that the Cowgirls would get. Crook County finished the match with 25 kills, while the much taller Wildcats had 36 as a team.

In addition, the Cowgirls had an uncharacteristically poor serving night with just three aces, all by Joann McKinnon, while Wilsonville finished with 12 aces.

McKinnon was a perfect 9-9 from the service line with three aces, while her sister Jenny also went 9-9, but with no aces. Jenny McKinnon also led the team in assists with 23.

Jonas, a junior, said that she will miss the four Crook County seniors.

"They were my friends on and off the court and although we will miss them they have made the program better," she said. "They just make the whole team better people and better volleyball players."

With the loss, the Cowgirls end the season with a 14-8 record, while Wilsonville advances to the quarterfinals where they will play second-ranked North Bend.

Redmond, the third place team in the Intermountain Conference, lost to Silverton, while the league champion Ridgeview Ravens easily defeated Thurston to also advance to the quarterfinals.

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