Volleyball led Bulldog athletics this fall
Football team earned two wins, much improved over last season
This fall for Culver High School athletics was highlighted by the volleyball team's run to third place at the Class 2A tournament, but there was a bit more to it than just the spikers.
The improvement of the football team, which seemeeall team, which seemed to happen on a daily basis, and the exciting first half the season by the soccer team - which is coed - were all pieces of the fall season for CHS sports.
Here's a recap of some of the high points of this fall in Bulldog athletics:
Even though the Bulldogs didn't win back-to-back state championships like they wanted to, they still had an outstanding season.
Culver finished in third place at the 2A state tournament, held just down the road at Redmond's Ridgeview High School, behind a tremendous all-around performance against Weston-McEwen.
The Bulldogs were the only team on Weston-McEwen's schedule to beat TigerScots in straight sets, and the Bulldogs had to overcome the most emotional draining loss of their season.
The night before, Culver met Days Creek in the 2A semifinals. Culver defeated Days Creek in the 2012 2A championship match, and the Wolves cashed in a bit of revenge with a straight-set victory to drop the Bulldogs to the third-place match.
Days Creek was the only Class 2A team to beat the Bulldogs all season, and they were able to do it twice.
The Wolves beat Culver in a tournament championship game in Reedsport earlier in the season. While faces were sad and dreams of another state title were dashed, the Bulldogs rallied to take out Weston-McEwen the next afternoon with a performance that could very well have made fans think about a Culver and Days Creek rematch.
In reality, however, it wasn't going to happen and the Wolves went on to claim its second state title in three seasons after beating Reedsport in straight sets.
Culver landed senior Gabrielle Alley and junior Shealene Little on the first-team all-tournament team at the state tournament.
The trip to state was the culmination of perhaps some of the best volleyball the program has ever played.
Culver went 16-0 in the Tri-River Conference for the first time, repeated as conference champions and won the conference tournament for the second time. Kennedy gave the Bulldogs a heck of a match for the tournament title, taking the match to five sets before the Bulldogs won.
Culver had beaten the Trojans twice before during TRC play, both times in straight sets.
In addition to the undefeated league season, Culver won the season-opening tournament in Warrenton and had a winning streak of 14 matches before it was snapped by Class 3A Cascade Christian during the Corbett tournament.
Little set a school record with 538 kills for the season with a .465 hitting percentage. She was also second on the team in digs (243) and aces (99).
Sophomore setter Hannah Lewis broke a school record for assists in a season with 993. She also helped out in the front row with blocking, tallying 20 blocks for second most on the team.
Alley was second on the team with 344 kills, and led the Bulldogs in digs with 256 and 100 aces. Kaylee Aldrich was third on the team in aces with 94, and Lynze Schonneker had 81.
Little was named the TRC player of the year and first-team all-conference. Alley was a first-team selection while Schonneker, Lewis and libero Emma Hoke were all named to the second team.
Culver finished the season with a 30-3 overall record.
After a winless Tri-River Conference campaign in 2012, this season in Culver football was a step in the right direction.
While the Bulldogs didn't win a game on the field last year (the loss against Stanfield was later turned into a win due to Stanfield using an ineligible player), they picked up two wins this year.
The Bulldogs beat Vernonia 28-14 in a nonconference game, and then dispatched Santiam 48-14 in a TRC contest.
With increased numbers and more physically mature players, the Bulldogs were in nearly every game they played.
The Bulldogs lost to Bandon 18-14 to open the year, and then dropped their first TRC game to Waldport 38-28. Culver barely missed another win against Toledo in a 13-6 loss.
While they were blown out by the top three teams in the TRC - Regis, Kennedy and Central Linn - the season was still miles ahead of where the team was at the end of last season.
Junior quarterback Clay McClure, an honorable mention all-conference quarterback last season, transferred from Central Linn and gave the Bulldogs more options offensively.
It allowed them to put senior Bolt Anglen out at wide receiver to create a nice 1-2 combination in the receiving game with senior tight end Mitch Adams.
Culver played a full junior varsity schedule this season, which is something head coach Shea Little was very pleased with.
Not only will it help develop the younger kids' skills more, but it will build confidence and help mature the players faster than just standing on the sidelines and playing in mop-up time.
Culver finished 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the TRC.
The Culver soccer team started out the year on fire, but then cooled off considerably in the middle of the season.
The Bulldogs, which had both boys and girls on the same team, started the year 3-1 with big wins against La Pine, Irrigon and Central Christian.
But when it came time to play the league powers, Riverside and Umatilla, things went south for Culver in a hurry.
All six of the Bulldogs' loses came to the Vikings and Pirates, both of which advanced to the state playoffs.
Culver finished 6-6 overall and 3-6 in Special District 4 with all three wins coming against Irrigon.