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Prep Volleyball: Challengers split

ADAIR VILLAGE — Cascade Christian volleyball coach Rob Kleker likes participating in the Santiam 3-Way because it tests the Challengers in an environment similar to that of the state tournament.

The two-time defending Class 3A state champions met that challenge head on Saturday, falling to Santiam Christian in a thrilling rematch of last year’s state final before rebounding with a four-set win over Salem Academy.

Santiam Christian rallied from a two-sets-to-one deficit to beat Cascade Christian, 16-25, 28-26, 24-26, 25-20, 15-6, but the Challengers showed some grit by defeating Salem Academy without a break in between matches, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-20. Both matches were played at Santiam Christian High School.

“We struggled a little in the first set trying to regroup,” Kleker said of the match against Salem Academy. “We were a little fatigued because we didn’t have any break between matches — the match took two hours. ... But it’s a good opportunity to simulate what state might look like.”

Cascade Christian (15-4) beat Santiam Christian (15-3) in five sets to capture the 2017 state title and was in position to win the rematch in four before the Eagles rallied.

Caroline McMahon went off for 28 kills and 15 digs, Kaylee Cannon had 15 digs, eight kills and five blocks and Taylor Cave 42 assists and four aces for the Challengers, who have won seven of their last eight matches heading into Tuesday’s Far West League showdown with No. 1 South Umpqua.

Still smarting from that loss, Cascade Christian struggled out of the gate against Salem Academy (7-7), but woke up in plenty of time to win going away.

McMahon had 17 kills and 12 digs, Olivia Borg 11 kills and three aces and Cave 32 assists and five aces. Cannon added four kills.

CLEARWATER CLASSIC: At Bend, Crater advanced to play in the gold bracket but was eliminated in the opening match by Bend, while North Medford secured the silver bracket championship in the elite tournament played at Bend and Mountain View high schools.

North Medford lost to Bend, 25-20, 25-23, in pool play and also split with Clackamas in a pair of 25-16 sets and swept Ashland 25-19, 25-16.

After finishing second in its pool, the Black Tornado stormed through the silver bracket with wins over South Eugene (25-23, 25-17) and Roseburg (25-10, 25-18) before taking out Crook County (25-19, 25-17) in the championship match.

North Medford head coach Malcolm Munson said his team’s service game and serve-receive proved to be the key to Saturday’s success, with junior middle Jenna Sandstrom adding an aggressive attacking game and senior setter Kyleigh Lopez doing well to distribute the ball.

Crater swept Hood River Valley and Reynolds and lost both sets to Summit in pool play, finishing as the top second-place team to advance into the gold bracket.

In the opener against Bend, the Comets lost leading hitter Nehkyah Ellis midway through the second set when a Lava Bears player came under the net and Ellis injured her ankle upon landing.

Bend went on to win 24-26, 25-16, 15-13 despite 10 kills and five blocks by Addy Lowder, seven kills and four blocks by Maya Van Hook and nine kills by Ellis before she was lost for the match.

Central Catholic went on to beat Bend in the gold bracket final.

TRIAD 3, PROSPECT 0: At Klamath Falls, freshman Tianna McGonagle led Prospect with four kills and McKenzie Thompson had five aces but Triad avenged a previous loss to the Cougars, 25-21, 25-12, 25-22.

Prospect (3-11, 1-10 Mountain Valley League) also got 11 digs from Leeanna Lands.

Triad improved to 4-10, 3-8 in the MVL.