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Challengers rally after injury shakeup

ADAIR VILLAGE — Cascade Christian’s emotions toward a double-dual between fellow Class 3A volleyball leaders Santiam Christian and Salem Academy went from victory to survival mode in the blink of an eye Saturday.

The defending champion Challengers were well on their way to a potential opening win over host Santiam Christian when their day turned on a significant injury that changed the complexion of the remaining action.

Cascade Christian senior outside hitter Alyssa Vaughn landed awkwardly midway through the second set against the Eagles (15-3) and was lost for the duration with a knee injury. Her status moving forward is unknown.

The shock of the injury initially proved too much for the Challengers, who won the opening set 25-10 but went on to lose the final three sets to Santiam Christian 25-17, 25-20, 25-19.

With little time for more adjustments, Cascade Christian (17-2) was still able to salvage a split with a 25-16, 14-25, 18-25, 25-18, 15-13 win over Salem Academy (18-4).

“We had no real time to think about adjustments other than to talk about how now’s the time when we grow as a team and grow as a group,” said Challengers head coach Rob Kleker. “There was a lot of growing going on today in a lot of different ways, for the kids and for me.”

Cascade Christian junior Caroline McMahon had 17 kills and 20 digs against Santiam Christian, while Aubrey Kievit had 38 digs and sophomore Olivia Borg, thrown in at outside hitter for the first time to replace Vaughn, added seven kills.

In the Challengers’ first match to go beyond three sets this season, McMahon came up with a pair of big hits toward the end of the fifth set to lift her team over Salem Academy. McMahon had 22 kills and seven aces, while Borg added 14 kills, junior Kaylee Cannon had nine kills and Allison Winter chipped in with 46 assists.

“Afterward I let them know how proud of them I was,” said Kleker. “They showed a lot of resolve and heart to make those quick adjustments and come out and get the win.”

CLEARWATER CLASSIC: At Bend, North Medford claimed the silver bracket championship after a promising day that saw the Black Tornado finish second in its pool to Clackamas and then go 3-0 in bracket play.

Although it was a loss, North Medford head coach Malcolm Munson said one of the highlights of the day was how well his team competed in a 25-21, 25-20 loss to Clackamas, a top-10 team in the Class 6A power rankings.

The Black Tornado opened the silver bracket with a 25-12, 25-9 win over Crater, then topped Ridgeview 25-13, 25-18 to reach the championship final, where North Medford dispatched West Salem 25-15, 25-19.

Munson credited the team’s tough service game throughout the day, with Kiley Pauck, Alex Barry, Lauren Barry and Adriane McLemore shouldering much of the load in the tournament.

THURSTON 3, EAGLE POINT 1: At Springfield, Eagle Point’s Ryleigh Gainey pounded out nine kills and Odalis Rincones added eight in a losing cause as Thurston won the Midwestern League match, 25-18, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16.

Gainey also added 12 digs and Rincones had 10 digs for the Eagles (6-8, 2-7 MWL), while Nauvoo Beal doled out 25 assists with 10 digs and three blocks, Aly Scheffler had five kills and 11 digs and Aliah Darling managed 20 digs against the Colts (6-9, 4-5).

TRINITY LUTHERAN 3, PROSPECT 0: At Bend, Lexy Stockebrand had seven digs, three assists and three aces and Maylee Breiholz added seven digs, two kills and two aces to pace Prospect in the Mountain Valley League loss.

Trinity Lutheran (6-16, 4-4 MVL) won the match 25-16, 25-17, 25-16 against the Cougars (1-11, 0-8).


CLATSKANIE 26, ST. MARY’S 7: Cooper Blodgett passed for four touchdowns in leading Clatskanie past St. Mary’s in a nonleague game at Spiegelberg Stadium.

Trailing 20-0 in the second quarter, the Crusaders (3-3) closed the gap with a 20-yard scoring run by Gavin Rajagopal.

But the Tigers (5-1) started the second half with a pooch kickoff that they recovered and capitalized on with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Blodgett to Sam Shockley.

Defensively, St. Mary’s forced Clatskanie into several third-and-long situations, but Blodgett got his team out of trouble by finding spots in the secondary. The Crusaders came into the game focusing on stopping the Tigers’ rushing attack and instead were stung by their effective passing game, St. Mary’s coach Jamie Young said.

St. Mary’s suffered a key injury late in the third quarter when starting quarterback Cody Conner suffered a separated shoulder after he was tackled while carrying the ball. Aliiloa Kaeo-Wailehua was effective after replacing Conner at quarterback, but the Crusaders were unable to convert two first-and-goal opportunities in the second half.


St. Mary’s;0;7;0;0;—;7

C — Combs 49 pass from Blodgett (kick failed)

C — Puckett 25 pass from Blodgett (run failed)

C — Combs 58 pass from Blodgett (run)

SM — Rajagopal 20 run (Rajagopal kick)

C — Shockley 16 pass from Blodgett (run failed)