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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Crater falls in state opener

Staff reports

CENTRAL POINT — For all the success the Crater volleyball team has enjoyed this year, the Comets simply found a bad time for an off night Saturday in the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs.

Crater hadn’t lost as much as a single set in the past three weeks but visiting La Salle Prep came to town highly confident and carried that through for a 25-19, 14-25, 25-18, 25-22 triumph to end the young Comets’ promising season.

Crater, the Midwestern League champions, were the No. 8 seed and La Salle Prep, runner-up in the Northwest Oregon Conference, was seeded ninth. Both teams carried the same rankings in the Class 5A coaches’ poll.

“We knew it was going to be a good competitive game and it was going to be tough to win this match,” said first-year Crater head coach Megan Dunn. “We had a great mindset going in but unfortunately our mentality was a little bit too inconsistent throughout the game.”

“They were playing well and playing consistent,” Dunn said of the Falcons, “and I think they came in ready to win. They had the play to win mindset versus, at times, we turned into the playing not to lose. That’s, I think, where they kind of sealed the deal there, that mental game made the difference.”

With the road win, La Salle Prep improved to 17-8 overall and will open the state tournament against No. 1 Ridgeview on Friday. Crater wrapped up its season 16-5 overall after going 14-2 in MWL play with only two seniors on the roster and three freshmen among the team’s top producers.

“I know the girls left with their heads held high,” said Dunn. “They were bummed about losing but they are proud of each other and they should be. I know I am proud of them, it was tough to end it.”

Crater junior Tessa Frodge posted a team-high 11 kills, while freshman Madison Kocina added 10 kills, 13 digs and three blocks.

Junior Avery Hanson contributed eight blocks and five kills, while freshman Kendra Bittle had five kills and three blocks for the Comets.

Seniors Averi Young (five blocks) and Kayana Woodard (13 digs, five aces) also provided solid efforts, while freshman Kate Stidham scrambled for 26 assists and junior Kylie Anderson had 23 digs.

La Salle Prep took an early advantage in the first set before Woodard’s serving allowed the Comets to make it a game again before a late surge by the Falcons.

The second set belonged to Crater and, more specifically, it’s frontline group of blockers.

“We started out strong and got a bit lead on them right out of the gate and a lot of that had to do with our blocking,” said Dunn. “A lot of stuff blocks gave us momentum. Avery Hanson, Averi Young and Kendra Bittle were all just right up in their face and really putting up a beautiful block.”

Inconsistent passing in the third set made it difficult for Stidham to run a coordinated offense and then La Salle Prep jumped to a 6-1 lead in the fourth set that was too much to overcome as the teams chipped away at one another.

SUNSET 3, NORTH MEDFORD 1: At Portland, North Medford senior outside hitter Lauren Barry led her team with 14 kills, 18 digs and two aces but it wasn’t enough as seventh-seeded Sunset won 25-21, 16-25, 25-11, 25-18 in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

North Medford (16-7), runner-up in the Southwest Conference and a No. 10 seed, was able to take the second set behind the play of Barry and Catherine Rostel, who finished with 16 kills overall.

Junior setter Hannah Drysdale distributed 36 assists.

Defensively, North Medford junior Taryn Holmes had 10 digs while Sara Hamlin and Jordan Sandler added nine digs each against a powerful Apollo frontcourt.

The Black Tornado had seven aces as a team against Sunset (20-6), which will open the state tournament Friday against No. 2 Central Catholic.

CROOK COUNTY 3, ASHLAND 1: At Prineville, Ashland saw its season come to a close against fifth-seeded Crook County in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs, 25-10, 25-13, 13-25, 25-16.

The 12th-seeded Grizzlies, who were fourth in the Midwestern League, finished their season with a 15-8 record.

Crook County (20-8) opens the state tournament Friday against No. 4 Corvallis.

HORIZON CHRISTIAN 3, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 2: At Tualatin, Horizon Christian avenged a loss to Cascade Christian earlier in the month to slip away with a five-set thriller in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 21-25, 19-17.

Tenth-seeded Cascade Christian, which tied for the Far West League regular season title but drew the league’s No. 3 seed, conceded the first two sets but stormed back to take the third and fourth sets. The Hawks hitters, however, kept the Challengers off balance throughout.

In the fifth and decisive set, Horizon Christian took advantage of a slow start for the Challengers and jumped out to a 12-7 lead. After a timeout, Cascade Christian clawed back to tie the game at 14. Though the Challengers had 21 aces as a team, they would miss four critical serves at the end of the fifth set to seal their fate.

Junior setter Taylor Cave distributed 49 assists to Janie Kenaston (13 kills), Hannah Stanfield (11 kills) and Olivia Borg (nine kills) in the loss.

Cascade Christian received solid defensive performances from Madi Schwartz and Stanfield, while Kenaston had eight blocks.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater’s Avery Hanson blocks a hit from the La Salle Prep’s offense during the 2nd game.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCrater’s Kendra Bittle makes a hit through the La Salle Prep’s defense during the 1st game.