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St. Paul volleyball wins in straight sets to advance to the state quarterfinals in Redmond on Friday

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The St. Paul volleyball team was all smiles after its first round victory in the OSAA playoffs, soundly defeating Wallowa in three sets on Saturday to advance to the state quarterfinals.

The No. 3 St. Paul volleyball team has been nothing short of dominant down the stretch of its 2019 campaign. Entering Saturday's playoff tilt with No. 14 seed Wallowa, the Buckaroos (26-5, 14-0 Casco League) were the winners of 11 consecutive matches in the state, not allowing their opponents to win a set in any of their victories.

Saturday's playoff game on Saturday at St. Paul High School proved to be more of the same as the Bucks won in three sets, 25-12, 25-16, 25-9. The victory advances St. Paul to a state quarterfinal match against No. 11 seed Crosshill Christian – a league foe that the Bucks vanquished in all their matchups this season.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Seniors Destiny Smith and Isabelle Wyss, among the leaders on the St. Paul volleyball team, go for a ball during their team's resounding victory.

"The team played very solid the whole match," SPHS coach Lesli Hiller said in an email. "We had strong net play by Erin Counts (eight blocks), Anabelle Davidson (nine blocks), Mary Davidson (three blocks) and Jordan Caldwell (five blocks), which shut down their hitters."

A balanced performance from the Bucks led to a lopsided victory, which started with a 25-12 first set and ended with an utterly dominant 25-9 third set to send Wallowa packing.

"We did a great job of setting it up and hitting hard to keep them out of system, so they weren't able to set their hitters," Hiller said. "Our setters were amazing setting up 84 (out of) 92 hits at 91 percent hitting and 40 kills for 43 percent kills, led by Isabelle Wyss with 16 kills, Erin Counts with eight kills and Jordan Caldwell with six kills."GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Bucks coach Lesli Hiller is hoping for a repeat of last year's state championship run.

The Bucks also had 96 percent serving in the match, led in that category by Goughnour, who was 18-of-20 with two aces. Counts was 18-of-18 with three aces and Southerland was 16-of-16 with two.

"We are so proud of this team and how they continue to push each other to improve on their current level of play," Hiller said.

The Bucks now prepare to face Crosshill Christian for the third time this season. The Bucks won 3-0 in a road match Sept. 17 and picked up a 3-0 home win on Oct. 9.

St. Paul's playoff matchup with Crosshill starts at 10 a.m. Friday at Ridgeview High School in Redmond – the site of all the quarterfinal and semifinal games along with the final.

If the Bucks advance, they will play the winner of No. 2 Days Creek vs. No. 10 Perrydale, with that potential semifinal match scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.

While the Bucks haven't played Days Creek yet, they swept the Pirates in three games this season – the most recent being a 3-0 victory in the Casco League championship game.

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