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Cascade Christian takes third place at state

EUGENE — The hopes of playing for a state championship having been quashed a day earlier, Cascade Christian’s volleyball team still wanted to see how high it could go on Saturday in a third-place match with Vale in the Class 3A state tournament.

The Challengers responded with a convincing, 25-16, 25-19, 25-23 triumph at Lane Community College.

Cascade Christian, ranked second, had lost in three sets in the semifinals to third-ranked Santiam Christian. The Eagles went on to claim their third consecutive state title Saturday, beating Creswell in five sets.

The Challengers (22-6) collected themselves Saturday and recorded their second-highest finish in school history. They were second in 2009.

“Third place means a lot,” said Cascade Christian coach Rob Kleker. “The kids weren’t happy with the way that they performed (against Santiam Christian), and we talked about regrouping and having fun, and this was our way to put a stamp on the season. They really rallied around that idea and they really worked their butts off for this and it paid off.”

One player that left everything on the floor was senior libero Paige Bruce, who recorded 34 digs in just three sets.

“That kid made some plays in the back that kept points alive,” said Kleker. “One dig she made, she was just about horizontal to the floor and we ended up getting a point out of it.”

Katelyn Smith notched 11 kills and four aces while fellow senior outside hitter Trudy Burns recorded 10 kills for the Challengers. Junior setter Alyssa Brown passed out 27 assists.

“You could see the maturity from last night to today,” said Kleker of his team. “To watch them come together and make plays. Their intensity level was high and so it was fun to watch.”

BEND 3, CRATER 0: At Hillsboro, second-ranked Bend downed Crater 25-19, 25-22, 25-17 in the Class 5A consolation semifinals at Liberty High School.

The Comets (19-5) didn’t earn a trophy but capped one of the most successful seasons in school history by earning a conference title for the first time in 28 years and matching their best state finish by tying for seventh place.

Putting on one of her best passing performances of the season was senior middle hitter Paige Berriochoa, who also chalked up seven kills and 12 digs.

Junior outside hitter Destiny Fahndrich posted 16 kills, eight digs and a couple of aces for Crater while fellow outside hitter senior Kelsey Strouse chipped in eight kills and eight digs.

CASCADE 3, HIDDEN VALLEY 1: At Eugene, third-ranked Hidden Valley and No. 7 Cascade swapped convincing victories before Cascade got the edge in the final two for a 25-10, 12-25, 28-26, 25-21 consolation semifinal win in the Class 4A state tournament at Lane Community College.

Junior outside hitter Katie Allen amassed 18 kills, 34 digs and a pair of aces for the Mustangs (20-4), who received 36 assists, eight kills and three aces from senior setter McKenzie Cushman and 10 kills and five blocks from senior middle hitter Kenzy Martin.