The defending state champion Sisters Outlaws took care of business on Tuesday night as they defeated the Crook County Cowgirls three sets to one in a rematch of last year's state championship.
The host Cowgirls knew that they had their work cut out for them after Friday's jamboree at Summit High School
The Outlaws pounded the Cowgirls 25-8 at the jamboree as Jessie Brigham served the final 10 consecutive points for Sisters.
Although the Outlaws were in control for much of the match, it was far from the walkover between the two teams on Friday.
The Outlaws came out on top by a score of 25-11, 25-14, 24-26, 25-12.
"We improved an incredible amount compared to Friday," said Cassidy Dill, one of the Cowgirls' two seniors, and a team captain. "We had a better flow on the floor, and we covered our area on the floor consistently. We were more responsible on the floor."
The two teams traded points early in the match before the Outlaws took the lead 3-2 on a Hawley Harrer kill.
The 6-03 Harrer, who has committed to playing volleyball at UCLA, was unstoppable all night as she finished with a match-high 18 kills.
However, the Cowgirls were able to take the ball out of Harrer's hands for much of the match with quality serving and an aggressive attack.
The Outlaws stretched their lead to 16-4. However, after a timeout, the Cowgirls regrouped and played evenly with the Outlaws the remainder of the set as Sisters took an 25-11 win.
The Cowgirls took a quick lead in set two on a Dill kill. The Cowgirls led 7-5 before Sisters went on a run.
Behind sterling play from Harrer, Sisters scored 11 of the next 12 points as they rolled out to a 17-8 lead.
Once again, the Cowgirls settled down late in the set, but the damage had been done as the Outlaws cruised to victory in the set.
There was a brief intermission following set two, and the Cowgirls used the time to alter their lineup and to regroup.
Freshman Kacie Stafford replaced Wells at libero, as the junior was held out for precautionary reason after a minor injury.
"At the break, the girls said this time we want to score 18," Crook County head coach Rosie Honl said. "I said 18, are you nuts, we are going to win this game, you can do it."
Once again, the Cowgirls took an early lead in the third set as another Dill kill gave Crook County a 2-0 lead.
However, this time the Cowgirls didn't falter in the middle of the set. The two teams were tied 15 times in the set as neither team could gain an advantage.
Sisters finally broke a 16-16 tie as they took the lead on a Crook County service error. A Harrer kill gave the Outlaws an 18-16 lead. An ace by Sam Silva moved the Outlaw lead to 19-16.
You could see Sisters fans getting ready to edge for the door, thinking the match was over. However, Crook County settled down, eventually tying the match 24-24 on another kill by Dill, an attack error on Sisters, and a net violation from the Outlaws.
A timely Madison Kussman block gave the Cowgirls a 25-24 lead. When Ashlynn Cantwell hit the ball long on a spike attempt for the Outlaws, the Cowgirls took the set.
The Cowgirls played well at times in the fourth and deciding set, but were unable to keep the momentum as mistakes proved costly.
The Cowgirls had four service errors in the set as well as a series of attack errors as the Outlaws pulled away to take the set and the match.
Still, Honl was pleased with the improvement that she saw during the course of the match.
"Most of the game there were five freshmen and sophomores out there," Honl said. "So there's nothing but improvement in our future. We are getting better all the time."
Dill led the Cowgirls with 13 kills, while Raegan Wilkins added seven.
"I was super nervous for this game," Dill said. "I was afraid that we were going to lose terribly like we did at the jamboree, but we came through and did so much better than I was hoping for. So, I'm really excited for the season."
Dill also did well at the service line, going 12-12 in the match. Freshman Kennedy Buckner also had an outstanding day from the service line, going 14-14.
Buckner, Wilkins and Mekynzie Wells each had seven digs.
Wells had her digs despite not playing after the second set.
In addition to Harrer's 18 kills, Cantwell finished with nine kills for the Outlaws, while Kendra Sitz and Silva each pitched in with six.
Honl noted that the team was able to regroup despite Wells being out of the match, and despite having so many players with no previous varsity experience on the floor.
She added that Dill has been forced to play middle blocker early in the year, but should be able to move to right side hitter, her preferred position, later in the season.
She added that middle blocker Kenna Woodward, who missed a week of practice, will be eligible next week, which should also strengthen the team.
The Cowgirls continue their difficult early schedule next week. The team travels to Summit on Tuesday, Sept. 5 as they take on the Storm, who finished third at last year's Class 5A state tournament.
Things don't get any easier on Thursday as the Cowgirls travel to Bend again to take on the Class 5A defending state champion Bend Lava Bears.
Both games are set for 6 p.m.
Following Thursday's match, the Cowgirls have a short break before going on the road again on Tuesday, Sept. 12 as they begin conference play with a match against the Estacada Rangers.