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Crook County goes undefeated in morning play, then goes 1-2 in afternoon pool

The Crook County Cowgirls are rounding into form at just the right time.

After winning a key league matchup on Thursday, the Cowgirls played even stronger volleyball on Saturday as they finished in a three-way tie for second at the Mount Hood Invitational Volleyball Tournament, which was held at Barlow High School in Gresham.LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - Anna Woodward sets a ball during a recent home match. Woodward had 107 assists on Saturday as the Cowgirls tied for second at the Mount Hood Invitational.

"It was a pretty good day," said Crook County head coach Rosie Honl. "We got to play against some high-level teams. We are still working on some things, but we are continuing to get better."

The Cowgirls went undefeated in morning pool play, knocking off Sandy, who is fifth ranked in Class 5A, 25-16, 25-17 in their opening match of the tournament.

The Cowgirls then whipped Class 6A Gresham 25-17, 25-20 to win the pool.

"Sandy and Gresham gave us good fights," Honl said.

In most tournaments, that would have placed the Cowgirls in the gold bracket. However, the Mount Hood tournament is structured different. Instead of a gold bracket, the winner of each of the four morning pools play in a second pool in the afternoon, with the four second-place teams playing in a second pool, and so on.

The Cowgirls opened play in the gold pool with a match against the Class 5A, No. 3 ranked Bend Lava Bears. The two teams had split previous matches, with the Lava Bears winning a home match the first week of the season, while the Cowgirls defeated the Lava Bears at the Rogue Valley Classic a couple of weeks later.

As in the two previous matches, the game was close throughout, with the Cowgirls coming out on top in a three-set thriller, 25-23, 21-25, 15-11.

Following the Bend match, the Cowgirls faced the host Barlow Bears. Crook County stayed in the match, but lost in straight sets to the taller Bears, 25-21, 25-19.

In their final match of the tournament, the Cowgirls took on the Clackamas Cavaliers, who were ranked fifth in Class 6A going into Saturday.

In the first set, Honl elected to rest some of her starters, and the results weren't pretty as the Cavaliers rolled to a 25-12 win.

"I was trying to get some kids playing time," Honl said. "The second set, I said, 'Alright, you guys had your rest. Your minds are set, your bodies are a little more rested, let's go get them,' and that set went back and forth the whole time."

Although the Cowgirls gave it all they had, in the end, the Cavaliers took a 26-24 win.

"Barlow and Clackamas are both huge," Honl said. "Barlow has a 6-footer going to University of Portland and both teams have big middles. Clackamas, especially, they are just big."

Clackamas went undefeated in the pool to win the tournament, while Crook County defeated Bend, who defeated Barlow, who defeated Crook County, leaving the three teams in a tie for second.

Cassidy Dill led the Cowgirl offense at the tournament with 34 kills, while Raegan Wilkins added 33, and Kerigan Waibel finished with 20.

Dill also led the Cowgirls in blocks with seven, while Kenna Woodward had five and Wilkins finished with three.

Anna Woodward, who set all but one set for the Cowgirls, finished with 107 assists in the tournament, while Mekynzie Wells led the Cowgirl defense with 70 digs.

Waibel also led the Cowgirls in serving, going 45-48 with 11 aces. Wells also had a strong serving day, going 46-52 with 12 aces, while Kenna Woodward was 45-55 with eight aces and Wilkins went 30-35 with five aces.

With wins in the first pool play not counting on a team's record, the Cowgirls fell to 7-8 on the season following the tournament.

Despite the strong showing, the Cowgirls dropped from 12th to 14th in the latest OSAA power rankings, while Clackamas also dropped going from fifth to sixth in spite of going undefeated.

"It's big-time disappointing to drop in the rankings," Honl said. "The Sandy win doesn't count, so that hurts, but I thought we would go up because we beat Bend."

Power ranking is even more important than usual this year, as Crook County and Estacada are currently tied for first place in the Tri-Valley Conference. In the event of a possible tie for first-place power rankings will be used as the tiebreaker.

As of today, the Cowgirls still hold the advantage as the Rangers are currently ranked one place behind the Cowgirls.

Both teams have four league matches and two tournaments remaining. However, the Cowgirls are at two big class 5A and 6A tournaments, while Estacada is playing in two class 4A tournaments. That could give the Rangers an advantage in the final power rankings as matches against teams in a schools own classification are weighted more heavily than matches against schools in a higher or lower classification.

Crook County hosts Corbett tonight in a 6 p.m. match, then go on the road on Thursday against the Molalla Indians.

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