PREP ROUNDUP: Challengers upset top-seeded Eagles
ADAIR VILLAGE — Five-set matches have been none too kind to the Cascade Christian volleyball team this fall, but Saturday offered a bit of a payback for earlier frustrations.
Facing top-seeded Santiam Christian on its home court, the 16th-seeded Challengers showed their mettle against overwhelming odds and stunned the Eagles in a five-set thriller during the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Cascade Christian won the match 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-8 to become the first No. 16 seed to knock of a No. 1 in at least eight years.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Challengers coach Rob Kleker. “We’ve been talking all year about how much talent they have and they finally rose to the occasion and made the adjustments. It was a lot of fun.”
Cascade Christian (12-10) will next face a familiar foe in Tuesday’s quarterfinals in Sutherlin, which edged the Challengers for the Far West League title in a championship tiebreaker last week. The Bulldogs (19-5), seeded eighth but tied for fourth in the 3A coaches poll, won 3-0 over Yamhill-Carlton in their first round match and hold a 2-1 series edge over Cascade.
The Challengers entered the state playoffs with a 2-4 record in five-set matches this season, including their final tuneup for the playoffs against Mazama this past Tuesday. When it came down to crunch time Saturday, though, Cascade Christian was dialed in against Santiam Christian (15-3), which is No. 2 in the coaches poll.
“We kind of just took off in that fifth set,” said Kleker. “We led 8-2 in the fifth and we just came out like gangbusters. The kids just had the momentum and just kind of carried it through. I was worried about the fifth set because we have not done well in five-set matches but the kids played their hearts out and left it all out there.”
Outside hitter Maddi Carter gave her team a huge boost with 21 kills, while fellow sophomore Maddie Todd had nine kills and freshman Poppy Freeman chipped in with nine kills and four aces.
Molly Griffin doled out 42 assists and Ellie Harrington had 24 digs and keyed the Challengers’ attack with a perfect effort from the service line.
CRESCENT VALLEY 3, CRATER 1: At Corvallis, Crater junior Kate Stidham supplied 37 assists, five kills, nine digs and two aces but third-seeded Crescent Valley was able to come up with the late points it needed in hard-fought sets to win the Class 5A state playoff match.
The Raiders (18-4) were able to eke out a 23-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-23 victory in the first round over the 14th-seeded Comets (11-9).
Kendra Bittle paced Crater with 17 kills to go with nine digs, while fellow junior Madison Kocina had 11 kills and six digs.
Sophomore Joslyhn Pope helped pace the defense with 21 digs to go with three aces, and freshman Danica Huntoon chipped in with six kills and five blocks.
WEST LINN 5, SOUTH MEDFORD 0: At West Linn, South Medford was sluggish to start and that proved costly in the first-round Class 6A match as West Linn scored all five of its goals in the first half to win going away.
The sixth-seeded Lions (12-1-2) carried 19 seniors on their roster and the advantage in size and experience proved too much for the 27th-seeded Panthers (8-6-1).
Junior midfielder Alex Rodriguez and sophomore forward Cash Cota were able to create some dangerous offensive possessions in the second half, with freshman Felix Valenzuela and sophomore Eloy Saucedo chipping in, but South was unable to capitalize.
GRANT 2, NORTH MEDFORD 0: At Portland, North Medford put forward a valiant defensive effort but saw its season come to an end with a loss to No. 5-seeded Grant in the first round of the 6A state playoffs.
The 28th-seeded Black Tornado (5-8-2) trailed 1-0 at halftime after the Generals (12-2-2) were able to put away a rebound of a fine initial save from North keeper Fernando Ortiz.
Ortiz, a sophomore, finished with eight saves, including a handful of stellar stops.
Grant, which is unbeaten in its last nine games, doubled its lead midway through the second half.
North’s two center backs, sophomore Colson Rumrey and senior Scott Bowman, had strong games despite the loss.
SOUTH MEDFORD 1, IDA B. WELLS 0: At Portland, South Medford’s Isabelle Cruz scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second half and goalkeeper Eve Lynx came up big on numerous occasions to allow the Panthers to get the opening-round win in the 6A state playoffs.
South (9-3-2), seeded 18th, broke the scoreless deadlock against Ida B. Wells — former Wilson High School — in the 55th minute when Cruz was able to finish Bella Bottero’s corner kick.
After getting the lead, the Panthers were able to preserve the lead despite the Guardians (6-5-5) having a multitude of scoring chances. That was in large part due to the efforts of Lynx, who made a pair of double saves from point-blank range within the span of five minutes.
Lynx finished with eight saves in recording South’s seventh shutout of the season.
The Panthers got big games from senior Lily Kalina and freshman Tyler Hampson, who filled in at the holding midfield spot after Alyssa Brown suffered an injury at practice earlier in the week.
South will play at second-seeded Lake Oswego, which claimed a 4-2 win over Cleveland, in the second round Tuesday.