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The Cougars defeated Central Christian 3-2 in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Country Christian sophomore McKenzie Syphard had 16 kills Saturday against Central Christian.

Country Christian's volleyball team stayed hot.

A week after winning The Valley 10 League championship, the Cougars defeated Central Christian 3-2 Saturday in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.

"Tonight was a barn burner," Country Christian coach Janin McGrath said after the match. "We had game prepped pretty well for Central Christian. They were the two seed out of their league (Mountain Valley), but after seeing them tonight, I had to question how they were the two seed and not the one seed. They came in firing on all cylinders."

Middle blocker Rilea Mills and outside hitter Myka Delamarter led Central Christian's attack.

"When they get an opportunity to set the ball up, those two can put the ball away," McGrath said. "We knew that going in, but I think Central Christian passed better than the game film I had on them. A lot of times we have the approach of stay offensive so the other team can't be offensive. And I thought Central Christian did a fantastic job of passing tonight. We were being offensive. We were doing well and playing well."

Central Christian, the No. 13 seed in the playoff, won the first game 25-23.

"We came out with some nerves in game one," McGrath said. "We did not pass well in game one, especially in serve receive. It took us about half of that first game to settle down a little bit."

The Cougars won the second game 25-20 to even the match and then dominated the third game 25-15.

"We started passing well, which gave us full options on our hitting," McGrath said. "We really played well in that (second) game."

Country Christian took advantage of the Tigers' mistakes in the third game.

"They had some hitting errors," McGrath said. "They had some service errors and they struggled to dig. That game was really never close."

Delamarter caught fire in the fourth game to lead Central Christian to a 25-17 win and keep the Tigers in the match.

Central Christian finished the set on an 8-0 run.

"We were having a little bit of a hard time serve receiving, which meant we had to give them soft stuff and they were setting her (Delamarter) on the outside and she was hitting that ball down the line. It was just coming too hard, too fast. That girl is good."

The Cougars led for most of the fifth set and were able to hold on to win 15-13.

"Sometimes a really good team can make you look bad in the moment and Central Christian did a good job of taking advantage of some of our stuff," McGrath said. "Then we had to battle through that and I thought our girls did a good job of keeping their composure through all of the mistakes and battling through to a big win."

The Cougars attack was led by two sophomores. Lizzy Grandle had 19 kills and 19 digs. McKenzie Syphard added 16 kills and three blocks.

"She has completely turned her game on," McGrath said of Syphard. "She's been practicing really well. She's been playing really hard, very coachable, and that has made a big difference for us, because now we have two middles that are really battling at the net, and some of these teams we run into only have one."

Senior Jerra Warrington had 40 assists. Junior Madison Halverson added 34 digs. Sophia Griffith and Karlie Gilmer each had four aces.

No. 4 Country Christian will play No. 5 Rogue Valley Adventist Academy Friday morning at Ridgeview High School in Redmond in state quarterfinals.

"It's a winnable game for us,"McGrath said. "If we play well, we're going to be in the game. I can guarantee you the girls will be prepared."

Derek Wiley
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