Crook County defeats Madras and Burns, but falls to Bend and Sisters in Friday's jamboree

The Crook County Cowgirls had an up and down day at Friday's Summit Volleyball Jamboree.

The Cowgirls started strong, whipLON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Regan Wilkins rips a kill against Madras at Friday's Summit Jamboree. ping Madras 25-8. Although they dropped a close match, the Cowgirls continued to play strongly against the Bend Lava Bears, coming from behind to take a 24-22 lead, before finally falling 26-24 to the defending Class 5A state champions.

"They played tough against Bend, and Bend is a good team," Crook County head coach Rosie Honl said.

Following the match against Bend, the Cowgirls seemed to suffer a letdown, struggling against Burns, before finally pulling out a 25-22 victory.

The Highlanders led by as many as five points early in the set, and still led 22-20 before the Cowgirls scored the final five points of the set to earn the win.

In their final set of the day, the Cowgirls fell behind early to the Sisters Outlaws. The defending Class 4A state champion Outlaws led 4-0 before the Cowgirls regrouped. Crook County rallied to close the gap to 8-5 and were still in the match, trailing 14-8 when Sisters went on a tear. The Outlaws scored the final 11 points of the match as Honl's granddaughter, Jessie Brigham, recorded 10 consecutive serves, including seven aces as Sisters pulled away for the easy win.

"We found out what we needed to work on," Honl said. "They came back a couple of times. We were trying different things, and we had three freshmen out there quite a bit of the time. I was pretty happy except for the end of it, but I was happy for my granddaughter."

Sophomore Regan Wilkins led the Cowgirls in kills with 11, while senior Cassidy Dill finished with seven. Freshman Kennedy Buckner added six kills, while senior Madie Kussman finished with five.

Junior libero Mekynzie Wells led the Cowgirls in digs with 18, while sophomore Anna Woodward added 8 digs, while Buckner finished with seven and Dill with six.LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Mekynzie Wells digs a ball during the Cowgirls set against Bend. Wells led the Cowgirls in digs during the jamboree with 18. Kerigan Waibel is in the background.

Wilkins and Wells led the Cowgirls in passing efficiency, while Crook County hit 87 percent of their serves as a team.

Dill was 13-16 from the service line with three aces, while Woodward was 18-20 with an ace, and Wells was 14-16 with an ace.

Honl noted that the Cowgirls have just five returning players from last year's varsity roster and have a large group of freshmen on the roster.

She added that the team still has a lot of work to do on serve and service receive if they expect to compete successfully with the top teams in the state.

Still, she was satisfied with how the team played much of the day on Friday.

"We did some good things," she said. "At times we played great, and we didn't make a lot of big mistakes. We just need to get better at serve and service receive."

The Cowgirls are going to have to improve quickly if they want to be successful early in the year.

The team hosts Sisters tonight in a 6 p.m. contest, then play at Summit on Tuesday, Sept. 5, before traveling to Bend again on Thursday, Sept. 7 to take on the Bend Lava Bears.

"Come and see us on Tuesday," Honl said. "We would love to see a huge crowd for that match."

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