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PREP VB: Comets sweep EP to stay perfect in MWL

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The Rogue Valley Classic provided the Crater volleyball team with a short midseason respite from Midwestern League play this past weekend.

But it was a return to league play Tuesday night that also saw what has become normal service resume for the Comets.

Eagle Point became the latest MWL team to find out just how dominant Crater has been to open league play this season, as the seventh-ranked Comets recorded yet another straight set win with a 25-16, 25-17, 25-13 victory over the Eagles at Scenic Middle School in Central Point.

“We played well in stretches,” said Crater head coach Leaf Jensen. “We started really slow and I think we missed four out of our first five serves, so it was just a weird little lack of focus there at the start of the match. But I was confident in my team — we’re playing well now, our offense is clicking pretty good, our serve-receive let us down a little bit tonight, which is something we’ve been working on for a few weeks now.”

It’s the sixth time in as many league matches that Crater (10-3, 6-0 MWL) has recorded a win in straight sets over league opposition as they hit the midway point of the MWL schedule.

“It’s a good start, it’s a strong start and I expect us to continue that,” said Jensen. “We did play a few matches where teams were missing a few players, but I expect some stiffer competition the second half of the season. We also only have one more home match, so our biggest challenge is coming up.”

Despite their less-than-desired start from the service line, the Comets were able to right the ship and take control of the first set.

It was close for the first part of the second set with the two teams tied at 9-all, but Crater used a run backed by kills from seniors Kendra Bittle and Maddie Kocina to pull away.

Bittle finished with a team-high 18 kills and added four digs. Kocina had 12 kills, a pair of solo blocks and recorded one ace from the service line.

“Sometimes, shorter blockers are a little tricky because you don’t see them as well and it draws you into hitting the ball straight down instead of swinging high and over the block,” said Jensen of facing the Eagles. “We just got ourselves into a little trouble there with hitting the ball too down, but once Kendra and Maddie started figuring that out and swinging a little higher they were unstoppable.”

Crater senior setter Kate Stidham had 30 assists, 10 digs and three aces.

“Kate’s been our leader on the court and running our offense,” said Jensen. “I trust her implicitly with our offense and she’s doing a good job moving the ball.”

Four different players for Eagle Point (4-5, 2-4) — Makynlee Schauffler, Baylee Mullen, Abby Trautman and Megan Carr — finished with three kills.

“Addie Holcomb, our best hitter, she definitely had her biggest off night of the year and we just never got her going,” said EP head coach Jacob Schauffler. “That definitely changes things offensively for us a lot. I think we served fairly well, but we had trouble getting in system, and when you have trouble getting in system that’s what happens with those attack numbers that you saw tonight.”

Makynlee Schauffler led the Eagles with 10 assists, while Carr had four blocks and Holcomb finished with a team-high six digs.

Jaylinn Holte and Trautman added four and three digs, respectively.

“We were just a little bit off all night with our block, which then makes it a little easier for them to get those kills,” said coach Schauffler. “When you play Crater and want to have a chance to beat them, you’ve got to have your block right and ours was just a little bit off. “

SHELDON 3, NORTH MEDFORD 0: At Eugene, North Medford struggled with serve receive in a straight-set loss to SWC co-leader Sheldon, 25-18, 25-15, 25-12.

North Medford setter Maddie Blake finished with five kills and seven assists on what was an otherwise off night for the Black Tornado (6-7, 2-3 SWC).

Sheldon — which is tied for the lead in the SWC with Roseburg and South Medford — improved to 11-4 overall and 5-1 in league.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, LAKEVIEW 1: Sophomore Poppy Freeman provided 12 kills and five assists for Cascade Christian, which did much of its damage from the service line in its 25-9, 25-19, 19-25, 25-11 Far West League victory.

Junior Madison Todd recorded 10 kills, 10 digs and seven aces for the Challengers (9-5, 4-1 FWL), who amassed 24 digs as a team.

In the fourth and final set, junior Sydney Shipman helped the Challengers grab a 20-4 lead and close out the Honkers (5-8, 1-3), landing four of her five aces.

Challengers junior setter Molly Griffin came up with 29 assists and five aces while senior defensive specialist Ellie Harrington paced the squad with 22 digs.

COQUILLE 3, ST. MARY’S 2: At Coquille, it took some time for short-handed St. Mary’s to find its groove and the Crusaders took Coquille to the brink before the Red Devils seized a 25-22, 20-25, 25-18, 15-25, 15-9 Far West League win.

The Crusaders (6-5, 3-1 FWL) were without two starters and four players overall due to illness yet were able to hang with the top team in the FWL with strong play from senior outside hitter Kelsey Dunn and superior serving.

Dunn racked up 19 kills and six blocks while freshman Ada Bernard came up with eight kills and 11 digs.

Freshman Julia Hansen went 17-for-19 from the service line in her first varsity start and added four aces with three kills. Her senior sister Kaitlyn Hansen contributed 39 assists St. Mary’s, which got 16 digs from Albie Borovansky and 11 digs from Noelle Thickett.

The Red Devils improved to 10-4 overall and 4-0 in FWL play.

ROGUE VALLEY ADVENTIST 3, NORTH LAKE/PAISLEY 0: At Silver Lake, seniors Emma Bischoff and Michaela Porter each had 10 kills to lead fourth-ranked Rogue Valley Adventist to a dominant 25-16, 25-9, 25-19 win.

Bischoff added nine digs and Porter had three blocks for RVA (10-1, 5-0 MVL), while fellow senior Destinee Quattrocelli finished with 10 assists and four aces.

RVA freshman Naomi Jackson had 13 assists and two aces, while junior Baelien McNaught chipped in four kills.

Crater's Alexa Gugliotta makes a hit for a point during the 2nd set against Eagle Point in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Crater's Kendra Bittle makes a hit for a point during the 2nd set against Eagle Point in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Crater's Alexa Gugliotta (front) and Kendra Bittle dive for the ball to keep the play alive for a point during the 1st set against Eagle Point in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Eagle Point's Baylee Mullen makes a hit during the 1st set against Crater in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Crater's Danica Huntoon makes a hit for a point during the 2nd set against Eagle Point in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Eagle Point's Makynlee Schauffler pushes the ball over for a point during the 2nd set against Crater in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]
Crater's Danica Huntoon makes a hit for a point during the 1st set against Eagle Point in Central Point Tuesday. [Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune]