Cowgirls prepare for state

Take a quick glance across the Crook County High School gymnasium and it is hard to miss the collection of state championship banners hanging among its upper walls.
   It is an impressive display, but almost more worthy of note are its glaring absences.
   Not one of these accolades, minus those from the ever successful drill team, have been won in the last decade and none belong to a volleyball team.
   The Cowgirls hope to change all that this weekend as they travel to Portland for the OSAA 4A Volleyball State Championships.
   "We want to take it all," said Rhea Wortman at the Cowgirls' final home practice of the year Wednesday, "We want the hardware."
   "It's time to add our banner," added another teammate.
   After a 16-0 sweep through the Intermountain Conference, the No. 7 ranked Cowgirls may not be one of the tournament's favorites, but they certainly are in the running.
   "Everything's got to fall right, but we definitely have a good chance," said assistant coach Joel Kent.
   Crook County will be tested right away as they open up the tournament against No. 3 ranked Gresham at 3 p.m. today. The Cowgirls recently faced the Gophers at the West Linn Tournament and split with them 25-20, 23-25.
   Kent said his team has been successful this season against big-hitting teams like the Gophers.
   "We match up well," he said. "If you have seen our games this year it is the great passing teams we have struggled against. Against the big hitters we hit back."
   The Cowgirls will take on Ashland at 5 p.m. and Marshfield at 7 p.m.
   They need to finish first or second in their four-team pool to advance to Saturday. The difference between these two spots, however, could be a big deal. The way the bracket is set up, if the Cowgirls win their pool, they will most likely face North Medford, Lincoln or Lakeridge in their first game Saturday. If they place second, there is a chance they could meet up with No. 2 ranked Jesuit and then No. 1 West Linn all before reaching the finals.
   "Some really good teams are not going to make it out of the first round," said Kent.
   The Cowgirls, however, seem to display the confidence needed to make this extra step. They have adopted two mottos for the postseason. One they borrowed from the world champion Boston Red Sox, (Why not us), and the other, (No Regrets), was made up by coach Rosie Honl.
   "It means don't hold anything back," said Heather Gerke. "We don't want to look back on the season and say we could have done anything better."
   After an intense Tuesday night workout, Crook County spent Wednesday focusing on fundamentals and different defensive positions.
   The mood was noticeably light with some players squeezing in some last minute preparation for the karaoke session that was planned to follow Wednesday's workout.
   Before the skills portion started, Honl went around the stretching circle and asked each player what they were going to bring to the tournament this weekend.
   Answers varied but traits like enthusiasm, aggressiveness and dominance were the most popular.
   "I am going to bring a volleyball team," said Kent, "I've coached a lot of teams and seen a lot of talent, but this is the one year I really believe we have the ability to do it."