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Crater nails down outright MWL crown

SPRINGFIELD — For the first time in 28 years, Crater captured a conference title, this one by sweeping Springfield 25-11, 25-12, 25-19 to wrap up the Midwestern League play.

The Comets (17-2, 11-1 MWL) earned a first-round bye in the state playoffs.

“It’s a real testament to these girls, how hard they’ve worked and how far they’ve come,” said Comets coach Leaf Jensen. “We were near the bottom last year, and I knew they had the physical talent but emotionally, it’s not as easy to do. But they’ve done a great job of getting out of that.”

“We just could never get out of that losing mentality but this year, we’ve maintained our level all year,” he said. “We were able to keep a really high intensity level.”

That intensity showed in the opening set when the Comets blasted out to a 14-1 lead, which set the tone for the second set.

Paige Berriochoa racked up 18 kills, Destiny Fahndrich posted eight kills and six digs and Kelsey Strouse pitched in seven kills for the Comets.

The Millers dropped to 0-17 overall and 0-12 in MWL play.

NORTH EUGENE 3, EAGLE POINT 0: At Eugene, Eagle Point lost 29-27, 25-20, 25-15 in the Midwestern League match.

The Eagle’s will play in the Ashland tournament Saturday.

Southwest Conference

SOUTH MEDFORD 3, NORTH MEDFORD 0: South Medford capped its season with a 25-12, 25-17, 25-12 victory over North Medford for its second win of the season and second over the host Black Tornado.

The Panthers (2-15, 2-12 SWC) had to go five sets to get the win in their previous match with North Medford (5-14, 2-12 SWC).

Freshman Chanel Groom posted 10 kills and five blocks while fellow middle hitter senior Kenzie Cox tallied nine kills and six blocks for the Panthers.

South Medford defensive specialist Natalie Ayala made serve receive difficult for the Black Tornado. Ayala pitched in 13 digs and four aces.

Senior setter Kelsey Bartlett registered 22 assists and six digs to go with a pair of blocks and two aces for South, which got seven kills from junior outside hitter Nicole Bell.

North Medford was led by sophomore outside hitter Ashley Ripplinger with seven kills and eight digs. Senior middle blocker Kathy Martin added seven kills and junior outside Emily Carter went for nine digs and four kills. Senior setter Taylor Otoski had 17 assists and five digs.

WILLAMETTE 3, GRANTS PASS 0: At Eugene, Elliot Cook led the way for Grants Pass with 10 kills and five blocks in the SWC defeat.

Halee Rose contributed 12 digs for Grants Pass (6-12, 4-9) in the 25-18, 25-14, 25-15 loss to first-place Willamette.