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Bulldogs will host a league playoff game Thursday, likely will face top-ranked Salem Academy for the Tri-River Conference title

EDWARD HEATH  - Culver volleyball players gather on court during their victory over Regis Oct. 13. The teammates are, from left, Madi Constantine, Hensley Wachter, Teal Nelson, Sydnee Bush, Kaylee Leeann and Brooke Bush. The Culver Bulldogs volleyball squad isn't used to losing, but they were handed a defeat Tuesday, Oct. 11 when they traveled to Crane.

The 2A fifth-ranked Bulldogs and the Mustangs played a very even match, and maybe the home gym advantage was the difference in the 25-22, 25-17, 28-26 loss.

Back in the friendly confines of at the Culver High School gym, coach Alex Carlson's Bulldogs routed the Regis Rams 25-7, 25-6 and 25-10, putting a victory bow on senior night.

Culver left the court at 11-3 in Tri-River Conference action, trailing only unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Salem Academy. Gervais is in third place at 10-4 in league.

"I was very pleased with how we played on Senior Night against Regis.  With such a large group of seniors, you sometimes have teams get caught up in the emotion of the night," said Carlson. "Our team did an outstanding job of embracing the moment and playing a great match.  Everyone on the team played extremely well.  It was a special night for our seniors and their families."

Culver has its first district playoff game this Thursday at 5:30 p.m.  We had byes in the first two rounds.  Carlson expects Culver will likely face Gervais in that match. If Culver wins, they'll be in the district district championship game on Saturday. That will be against the winner of the Salem Academy and Willamina match, and Salem Academy will be favored to win.

The championship game would be played at the highest finishing team in the regular season, in Salem Academy if they beat Willamina. Culver could host if they win Thursday and Salem Academy loses.

The following weekend, Oct. 29, will be the opening round of the OSAA State Tournament, with team-hosted playoff games.

"If we do things right as a team this week, we should have a strong chance to get to host that match," said Carlson.

A win in the play-in game would bring the Bulldogs a berth to the state tournament field at Ridgeview High School. 

"This is the team's ultimate goal, to get to the big tourney and have a chance to go on a run.  We are playing really well and we are excited that our team's fate is in our own hands.  It should be an exciting couple weeks of volleyball to end the season for the Bulldogs. We can't wait to face the challenges we have in front of us."

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