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Crook County High School drops Caldera but then runs into challenging Bend and Sisters teams

LON AUSTIN - Cylie Hartzell rises for a shot against Caldera in a season-opening straight-set victory. The Cowgirls then faced Bend, ranked No. 1 in 5A, and Sisters, 3A's No. 2-ranked team, and suffered losses.

The Crook County High School volleyball team has played a brutal schedule so far this year.

The Cowgirls went 1-2 this past week, but that fails to tell the whole story.

Crook County opened the season with a 25-13, 25-19, 25-16 victory over Caldera at home Tuesday night. Later that night, the Cowgirls played again, this time against Class 3A number two-ranked Sisters. The taller Outlaws held on to defeat the Cowgirls 25-16, 23-25, 25-16, 25-22 in a match that either team could have won.

Then on Wednesday, the Cowgirls went on the road to take on Class 5A number one-ranked Bend. Once again, Crook County put up a good fight, and once again, they came out on the short end of the score as the Lava Bears took a 25-17, 25-17, 25-18 victory over Crook County.

"We have some things to work on, but that was great volleyball," Crook County head coach Kristy Struck said. "I think the team has learned how well they can actually play volleyball. I don't know that they believed before this week."

The Cowgirls had no problem taking care of Caldera in a match that could have been much more lopsided than the final score.

McKenzie Jonas led Crook County's offensive attack with 11 kills, while Cylie Hartzell finished with seven kills and Lillimae Brumble added six. As a team the Cowgirls went 64-67 from the service line, with Jaycee Villastrigo going 22 for 22 with four aces, while Jacey Ramoss was a perfect 14 for 14 with three aces. Joann McKinnon also had a prefect serving night, going 11 for 11.

Villastrigo and Jonas led the team in digs with 12 each, while Jonas also had a pair of blocks.

In the second game of the double header, Sisters rolled to victory in the first set before the Cowgirls came roaring back to take the second set. After the Outlaws took set three, Crook County had a big lead in the fourth and final set before giving up 11 straight points as the Outlaws took the set and the match.

Jonas finished the match with 25 kills while Brumble had nine and Hartzell added six. Once again, Jonas had a great serving match, going 14 for 14 with a pair of aces, while Ramoss went 12 for 13 with two aces and Camryn Echterrkamp went 12 for 13.

Villastrigo led Crook County in digs with 27 while Ramoss added 12 and Jonas eight.

Despite the loss, the Cowgirls were pleased with the improvement they have shown since the Summit Jamboree just a few days earlier.

" I think we have made a lot of progress just focusing on the little things," senior setter Jacey Ramoss said. "We also are better about keeping our energy up and working as a team."

Thursday's match at Bend was very similar to the one against Sisters. The two teams played evenly for much of the first set before Bend went on a late run, scoring eight of the final nine points. The Cowgirls led 1-0 in the second set. However, the Lava Bears quickly tied the set, then took control. The Cowgirls did not lead again in the set.

However, set three was a different story. Crook County led 8-3, and still led 15-14 before Bend struck a series of hits together and took control of the match, outscoring the Cowgirls 11-3 down the stretch.

Callie Winebarger led the Cowgirls from the service line, going 14 for 14 with one ace, while Villastrigo was 11 for 11, also with an ace and Jonas went 9 for 10 with a pair of aces.

Senior Jonas led the team in kills with 14, while Brumble added four and McKinnon three.

"When you get a chance to play a team that as talented as Sisters and Bend it is not only great competition, but when you can play with them and beat them and have close sets with them, it really does boost the morale for the team," Struck said. "I think that they will know that they can play a faster paced game and I think it helped our rotation click and people know that they can be successful in different spots in different positions on the court. We have a lot of good volleyball players, they can pass and set and hit and serve. We may not be tall but they are fundamentally sound and they can play really solid volleyball."

The Cowgirls host Redmond and Mountain View today, then host their Blue & Gold scrimmage on Wednesday. Volleyball is scheduled to begin at approximately 5:30 tonight, with the Mountain view match to follow at about 7 p.m. Wednesday's scrimmage includes a dinner at 5 p.m. followed by an auction and scrimmage beginning at 7 p.m.

The Cowgirls then have a break before opening up the league season on Thursday, Sept. 15, when they take on The Dalles Riverhawks with the varsity match set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

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