Cowgirls roll over Cardinals
The Crook County Cowgirls pulled away midway through the first set of their league volleyball match with the Corbett Cardinals and never looked back as they rolled to a straight-set victory Tuesday night in Prineville.
"I felt really good about tonight," Crook County head coach Rosie Honl said. "They beat Bend in a game the other day at the tournament (the Mount Hood Invitational at Barlow High School) and we just took it to them."
Playing in front of a raucous student section, the Cowgirls took a 25-11, 25-18, 25-16 victory over the Cardinals to remain tied for first place in the Tri-Valley Conference with the Estacada Rangers.
"That was the most amazing group of young people," Honl said of the crowd. "They had positive cheering, loud cheering, consistent cheering. They were wonderful."
Meanwhile, the Cardinals slipped into a tie for third place in the conference with the Molalla Indians.
Crook County pulled out to a 5-2 lead to start the opening set as Kerigan Waibel blasted a pair of kills.
However, behind the strong play of Faith McQueen, the Cardinals came storming back. McQueen belted a kill, stuff-blocked Crook County middle hitter Cassidy Dill, then crushed another kill as the Cardinals tied the set 5-5.
"I thought we had a big effort," McQueen said of her team's play on the night. "We were really focused and determined to pull it out. The effort was really good, but the outcome was a little disappointing."
From that point on, the Cowgirls steadily pulled away.
When Raegan Wilkins hit her first kill of the night, the Cowgirls led 10-7. Two points later, Wilkins ripped another kill and Corbett called time out.
The Cowgirls continued to roll and led 20-9 as Kenna Woodward blasted her first kill of the night.
Following Woodward's kill, Honl went to her bench, but the change didn't matter as the Cowgirls kept the momentum.
Once again, the Cardinals stayed with the Cowgirls early in the second set.
After a pair of blocks by McQueen and a kill by Abigail Fritz, the Cardinals opened up a 9-6 lead.
Crook County tied the match at 9-9 on a Dill kill before the Cardinals once again took the lead, this time on a McQueen ace.
The Cowgirls tied the match at 11-11 on a Dill block before Corbett regained the lead on kills by Zoe Chatterton and Heather Flannagan. However, that was the final lead the Cardinals would take on the night. The Cowgirls tied the set 14-14, then took the lead on a kill by Wilkins.
A Corbett error and two more kills by Wilkins gave the Cowgirls an 18-15 lead.
When Woodward crushed another ball in the middle, the Cowgirls led 20-15 as Corbett again called time out.
The Cardinals tried to rally, but to no avail, as they traded points with the Cowgirls down the stretch.
Set three was a whole different matter. The Cowgirls rolled out to an 8-0 lead, mostly on the serving of Mekynzie Wells. Wells served the first eight points of the match, picking up six aces in the stretch.
With the Cowgirls holding such a large lead, Honl went to the bench, making sure that every player on the team saw plenty of playing time in the set.
Although the Cowgirls held a comfortable lead throughout the set, the Cardinals refused to go quietly as they as they outscored the Cowgirls 5-1 in the middle of the set.
Still, Crook County kept their composure and played even the rest of the way, cruising to the win.
"To fight with them and get the outcome we did was just amazing as a team," Wells said. "I'm extremely happy with the progress that we have made since the beginning of the year. I think that this win has given us some momentum and a little bit of confidence."
As has happened all season, Wells was impressive on defense, picking up 21 digs on the night as she picked up blast after blast from the Cardinal hitters.
Waibel and Wilkins led the Cowgirls in kills with eight apiece, while Dill pitched in with six and Kenna Woodward with five.
McQueen led the Cardinals in kills with seven, while Flannagan finished with five, and Fritz and Chatterton each pitched in with four.
McQueen led both teams in blocks with four, while Kenna Woodard and Wilkins each had two for the Cowgirls.
"I feel like our blocking was very disciplined and we did really well consistently having two people up on everybody," McQueen said. "I just felt that scrambled them a little bit."
Anna Woodward finished with 29 assists for the Cowgirls, who had 30 kills in the contest, while Corbett blasted 21 kills of their own.
However, it was at the service line that the Cowgirls took control of the match.
Crook County finished with 11 aces compared to just five for the Cardinals.
Wells was 17-20 at the service line with six aces, while Wilkins went 17-18 with three aces.
Kenna Woodward was 10-10 serving, while Dill went 12-13.
McQueen led the Cardinals in aces with three.
With the victory, their fifth consecutive league win, Crook County is now 6-1 in Tri-Valley Conference play and 8-8 overall. More importantly, they moved up from 14th to 11th in the OSAA power rankings.
"We are starting to gel," Honl said. "We are starting to follow all our rules like not reaching back, trusting your teammates, you know, doing all those things that we have rules for. They are starting to do them. It was a great night to be a Cowgirl."
Meanwhile, the Cardinals fell to 4-3 in league and 5-9 overall as they dropped to 26th in the power rankings.
Corbett's playoff hopes are still alive. The Cardinals hosted Estacada (6-1, 8-5) on Thursday, host Madras on Tuesday, before closing out the league schedule on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at Molalla in a match that may well be for the final play-in spot from the Tri-Valley Conference.
"I think we need to focus on really going for it and just giving it all out on the court and never giving up," McQueen said of her team's chances of making it to the playoffs. "We are going to try to get that win (against Estacada) on Thursday."
Meanwhile, the Cowgirls were at Molalla, 4-3, 6-7, on Thursday, then compete in the prestigious Clearwater Classic in Bend on Friday.
The 24-team tournament is played at Bend, Mountain View and Summit, starting at 8 a.m. and running throughout the day.
Crook County has Central Catholic, Sandy and South Medford in their pool, which will be at Bend Senior High.
The Cowgirls return to league play on Tuesday when they host the Gladstone Gladiators, 0-7, 0-13, then close out the regular season with a tournament at West Linn followed by a league match on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at Madras, 1-6, 1-12.