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Crook County gets past Tri-Valley Conference opponents, faces tough competition in West Linn Invitational

LON AUSTIN  - Joann McKinnon, 7, rises for a kill shot during the West Linn Invitational Oct. 15. It wasn't always pretty, but the Crook County Cowgirl volleyball team have guaranteed that they will reach the playoffs with a pair of league victories over Gladstone and Estacada.

The Cowgirls then wrapped up a busy week at the West Linn Invitational, where they dropped a pair of sets to Oregon City and swept Ida B. Wells in pool play before falling to Jesuit and St. Mary's in bracket play at the tournament.

Crook County struggled to get going Tuesday at Gladstone, finally turning things up into high gear in the third set of a 25-19, 25-22, 25-8 victory over the Gladiators.

It was the offense of senior McKenzie Jonas that kept the Cowgirls in the match while they were struggling as the senior middle blocker had 19 kills in just 34 attempts, with just three errors. Freshman middle blocker Lillimae Brumble also had a good offensive night with seven kills in 22 attempts, while Jacey Ramoss finished with 29 assists.

Jaycee Villastrigo led the Cowgirl defense with 16 digs while Callie Winebarger chipped in with six and Jonas had three blocks. Winebarger led the team in aces with seven, while Villastrigo added three.

Thursday it was senior night for the Cowgirls, who took care of business, quickly dispatching a solid Estacada Ranger team 25-8, 25-12, 25-8.

Once again, Jonas had a monster game on offense, finishing with 18 kills in just 32 attampts. Cylie Hartzell had her best offensive match of the year with seven kills on 19 attempts, while Tylee Cossitt added five kills on just eight attempts and Brumble finished with four kills on eight attempts. Ramoss also did a great job of running the Crook County offense, finishing with 28 assists.

However, it was at the service line where the Cowgirls really excelled. As a team, Crook County went 69 for 72 from the line with 20 aces. Jonas went 13-14 with nine aces, while Villastrigo was a perfect 18-18 with three aces and Winebarger went 18-19 with four aces. Joann McKinnon also had a solid serving match going 10-10 from the line.

With the wins Crook County improved to 8-1 in conference play, while Gladstone dropped to 2-7 in Tri-Valley play and 4-15 overall, while Estacada is now 4-5 in league and 8-13 overall.

Once again, the Cowgirls struggled to get rolling on Saturday at the West Linn tournament, falling 25-13, 25-16 to Oregon City in the first round of pool play. The Cowgirls played better in the second round of pool play, defeating Ida B. Wells 25-14, 25-16 in a match that they could potentially have won even more easily.

Splitting their pool matches put the Cowgirls in the silver bracket, where they faced Class 6A No. 1-ranked Jesuit in the first round of bracket play. Crook County played with the Crusaders for a while, but eventually were steamrolled by Jesuit 26-17, 25-9. That dropped the Cowgirls into the consolation round, where they fell to St. Mary's Academy 25-21, 25-19.

"We have a great group of volleyball players that play scrappy," said Crook County head coach Kristy Struck of the week. "They are setting goals, maturing and putting in the work. I love this group of young women."

Over the course of four matches on Saturday, Winebarger was nearly perfect from the service line, going 30-31 from the line with 12 aces. Jonas also had an outstanding service day, going 26-29 with seven aces, while Villastrigo went 27-29 with two aces, McKinnon was 21-23 with five aces and Ramoss went 21-22 with two aces.

Once again Jonas led the Cowgirls' offensive attack with 37 kills, while Brumble finished with 18, Hartzell eight and McKinnon five. Jonas added three blocks, while Brumble and Hartzell each had two. Villastrigo led the team in digs with 31 on the day, while Ramoss finished with 64 assists.

The Cowgirls closed out the regular season on Monday with a match at Madras.

Crook County is currently seventh in the OSAA power rankings, which freeze on Thursday, Oct. 20. Should the Cowgirls remain in the top eight in the power rankings they would have a bye into the first round of the state playoffs where they would host a game on Saturday, Oct. 29. If for some reason they should fall out of the top eight in the power rankings, the team would host a play-in match on Saturday, Oct. 22, then go on the road for the first round of the playoffs.

Winners of the first round playoff matches will qualify for the state tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4-5 at Springfield High School.

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