Rimrock Nationals team takes championship while 18s black finishes second

This year's Rimrock Alumni Volleyball Tournament, which was held Sunday at Crook County High School, was dominated by Rimrock teams.

Historically the tournament, which features local high school club teams as well as teams made up of former Rimrock Volleyball Club players, has 16 or more teams compete, with teams of alumni players frequently reaching the finals.LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County High School star Jennifer Roth, on the Rimrock Black team, goes up for a kill against the Rimrock Nationals team. The Rimrock Nationals team, made up of players from throughout Central Oregon, narrowly defeated the Black team, which is predominantly Crook County players, in the tournament championship.

This year, attendance was down, with just 14 teams in the tournament, including only three teams of alumni.

Still, tournament organizer and Crook County High School head coach Rosie Honl, who is also the Rimrock Club director, was pleased with how the tournament went.

"We didn't have as many alumni teams as some of the past tournaments," She said. "I think part of that was what day it was on, but we still had three alumni teams, and it was great to see two Rimrock teams play each other in the finals."

The Rimrock 18s National team lost just two sets the entire day as they went on to win the tournament. However, that doesn't mean that their win was easy. After sneaking by a team of alumni players, the Rimrock 18s Black gave the National team all they could handle.

The 18s Black team managed to split with the Rimrock National team in pool play. The Rimrock National team easily took the first set, then lost a close set to the Rimrock Black team in the second set of pool play.

Both Rimrock teams earned byes into the semifinals of bracket play, where they each faced teams of alumni.

Although their match was close early, the Rimrock Black team, which was led by Crook County High School players Jennifer Roth, Jennifer McCallister, Aspen Christiansen, Cassidy Dill and Rylee Troutman, won their semifinal in straight sets.

Meanwhile, the Rimrock Nationals team had all they could handle in the semifinals as an alumni led by former Crook County and Eastern Oregon University star Makayla Lindburg pushed them to the limit before finally falling 15-8 in set three.

That set up a rematch between the two Rimrock teams.

Once again, the Rimrock Nationals team, which is made up of players from throughout Central Oregon, easily took set one as they rolled to a 21-12 win.

However, the Rimrock Black team, which is primarily CCHS players, regrouped and made a match of it in the second set. Trailing 19-16, the Rimrock Black team took advantage of a pair of kills by Troutman as they closed to within a point.

However, after a time out, the Rimrock Nationals team scored two of the final three points of the match as they took a 21-19 win. The Rimrock Nationals team has just one Crook County player on the roster, setter Abby Smith. The team also features Sisters players Hawley Harrier, who was the Class 4A player of the year, as well as Jesse Brigham, a first team all state libero.

Honl said that the early season tournament was a good warm up for both Rimrock Club teams, who begin the regular club season in a couple of weeks.

The Rimrock Nationals team, which is coached by Joel Kent, is currently the top seed in the Gold Division, while the Rimrock Black team, which is coached by Heidi Wood, is the second seed in the Silver Division of the Columbia Basin Region.

Honl hopes that the Nationals team can do well enough at the first seeding tournament to move up to the Platinum bracket, which is made up of the top four teams in Oregon and the top four teams in Washington.

Meanwhile, she hopes that the Rimrock Black team can play well enough to move up to the gold division. Two teams in the same age group, from the same club, playing in the gold division or higher is a rarity in Northwest Volleyball, so that would be a big boost to the club.

In addition, a third Rimrock 18s team, the Rimrock White team, which is primarily players from Sisters, is also currently in the silver division.

"This tournament was a great warmup for league," Honl said. "Heidi's team gave them a fight, and even though they are babies for an 18s team, the Rimrock White team is athletic. I'm so pleased with how good our teams looked and it was nice seeing all the alumni players again."

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