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- Written by Bruce McCain
- Last Updated on June 27, 2012
- Published on November 3, 2008
- Hits: 2036
If one was looking for parity this year, then the 1A volleyball quarterfinal bracket provides some terrific opening-round matches. Five teams from last year’s final site return in 2008. This year, no single league can claim early bragging rights as each of the eight 1A districts send one – and only one – team into the fray. Six #1 seeds, joined by a pair of tough #2 seeds, conspire to produce what should be an entertaining Friday at Pacific University.With the 2007 champs sitting at home, the 2008 1A title race is wide open. We at OregonPrepSports.net will once again provide 1A fans with the coverage they often leave behind when they enter Portland zip codes. Let’s take a look at those great opening match-ups.
A – Prospect vs. B – Crow (Friday 8:00 am, Court 1)
The 2A/1A tournament gets underway with undefeated Prospect meeting Crow. This is the easiest match to call, which will delight fans from both schools. The Cougars will win …
A – Prospect (Mt. Valley #1; 17-0, 12-0)
The Cougars from Prospect in Jackson County rolled through the Mountain Valley with a perfect 12-0 record, then defeated Hosanna Christian for the district’s #1 seed. Last Saturday, coach Marci Gallagher’s Cougars knocked off North Clackamas Christian, 25-14, 25-12, 20-25, 25-14 to earn the school’s first trip the 1A finals site since 2005, when the Coug’s were eliminated in pool play under the old format.Coach Gallagher, who considers this her best team ever, has a solid squad led by senior MB Jen King, senior setter Catherine Anderson, junior OH Kayla Pulley, senior MB Becky Musard, junior setter Lindsey Verret and Keirstyn Anderson.
If there’s a rap against Prospect, it lies with the school’s schedule. There is no question that Prospect is the elite of the Mountain Valley League, having won three straight league titles, while losing only one league match in two years. Last year, the Cougars won the Mountain Valley title, but were beaten at home in the first round by Powder Valley, the #3 seed from the Old Oregon League, considered by many as one of the toughest in 1A. Likewise, in 2008, Prospect has an impressive 17-0 record, but the Cougars did not play any school at the 2A level or higher.
Prospect is the only unbeaten team in the quarterfinals. But a closer look at other teams’ schedules shows many of those nonleague losses (and some wins) came against 2A, 3A, and even 4A schools.
B – Crow (Mt. West #1; 18-2, 14-2)
The Crow Cougars, located outside Eugene, represent the Mt. West as the #1 seed, despite finishing second in the Mt. West – West regular season standings. Like the 1A Big Sky League, the Mt. West is comprised of East and West division, with top finishers from each competing for overall district seeding. Crow’s only losses this season came against Alsea, which won the Mt. West – West with a 16-0 record. But the Cougars turned the tables in the district championship match by sweeping Alsea, 3-0, to claim the top seed. The Cougars continued their hot hand Saturday with a hard-fought 3-game sweep of Jordan Valley (HDL #3), 25-21, 26-24, 26-24. With the win, Crow returns to Pacific University for the second consecutive year. Hopefully, first-year coach Michelle Kau’s team will respond better, after last year’s back-to-back 3-0 sweeps by Imbler and Days Creek.
The Cougars return several players from its 2007 team, including four-year players Georgia Twyerould and Bailey Koharchick, junior MB Linsey Kau and senior Michelle Bouchet. Crow misses the services of last year's setter, Kayla Pinson, out for the season with a knee injury. In her stead, sophomore Amanda Bouchet and freshman McKenzie Engel have taken on the setting duties. Crow played a non-league schedule marginally tougher than Prospect that included tournament play against some 4A and 3A JV teams as well as playing in the 2A/1A tourney hosted by 2A Yoncalla and North Douglas.
C – Crane vs. D – Griswold (Friday 8:00 am, Court 2)
This quarterfinal opener features a #2 seed that actually went undefeated in league play against a #1 seed that has played one of the toughest and most ambitious nonleague schedules of any 1A team in the tournament – and survived to talk about it.
C – Crane (High Desert League #2; 14-3, 11-0)
After winning the HDL regular season with a perfect 11-0 record, the Mustangs would be forgiven if they thought they would land in the “E” slot in the bracket, where the HDL #1 seed resided. But after losing to Adrian in the HDL seeding tournament, Crane had to take another route to Pacific University, this time through Cove, the OOL #1 seed. While the Mustangs were completing a 3-0 sweep of Cove, a couple hundred miles down the road Imbler (OOL #2), took out Adrian, the HDL #1 seed. So in effect, Crane and Imbler – two #2 seeds – beat each other’s district top seeds and traded places in the bracket.
Crane is making it first final site appearance since 1999, when the Mustangs took home the 6th place trophy back when the tournament was held at Lane Community College. Sherri Hussey’s 2008 squad returns seven varsity players from 2007: September O’Crowley, Lindy Steeves, Brooke Nyman, Lily Valentine, Hannah Buermann, Merry Jo Whiting and Natalie Bentz.
As with many rural 1A schools, Crane does not have a lot of non-league opponents within easy driving distance. The Mustangs played, and lost to, Imbler earlier in the season, and also lost to 3A Grant Union. Crane also scheduled 3A Burns’ JV team, given the relative proximity of the two Harney County schools. The Burns-Crane connection extended a little farther this season as former Hilander player Lindsey Robertson joined coach Hussey’s staff as an assistant coach.
D – Griswold (Big Sky #1; 25-7, 8-0)
The Griswold Grizzlies, often referred to by their home town name of Helix, return to Pacific University once again after taking home the 3rd place trophy last year. This year, coach Tammie Parker looks to reach the title game thanks in part to several key returning players and a nonleague schedule that most 2A schools would cringe at.
The Grizzlies opened the season with tournament wins over 4A McLoughlin and 3A Riverside before falling to 2A Weston-McEwen in the McLoughlin Tournament finals. Two days later, Helix played in the 2A Weston-McEwen Tournament and racked up wins against 2A Pilot Rock (2-1) and 1A Wallowa (2-0), while dropping a 2-1 match to 2A Union (BMC #3 seed). The Griz’ lost to W-M again, 2-0; but given the proximity of the two towns and schools, that’s almost a badge of courage in Helix. Helix also split a pair of five-game matches with Imbler this season.
For those in attendance last year, Griswold’s 18-25, 25-8, 25-12, 23-25, 15-6 victory over Imbler in the 3rd place match was far more exciting than the eventual 1A title match between Adrian and Dufur. This year, Griswold and Imbler are once again in opposite sides of the bracket …
The Grizzlies placed four players on the Big Sky – East 1st Team, which are awarded separately from the West division. Earning 1st Team honors were junior Britney Smith (also named to last year’s All-Tournament 2nd team), junior Kylee Jo Rogers, Addie Terjeson, and sophomore Chyanne Hack. That’s right; not a senior among the four, though senior Mariah Watchmen earned Big Sky honorable mention.
E – Imbler vs. F – Days Creek (Friday 10:00 am, Court 1)
Both teams return to Pacific University where in 2007, Days Creek finished 4th, and Imbler 5th. Both teams barely missed each other in last year’s bracket, but not this year.
E – Imbler (OOL #2; 24-4, 9-1)
The Panthers won the Old Oregon League with a 9-1 record, but lost to a good Cove team in the district seeding match. So the Panthers took the OOL #2 seed, which turned out to be OK as Cove lost at home to Crane in the second round. Meanwhile Imbler beat North Lake at home in the first round and then turned in a impressive 3-0 road win at Adrian, the top seed from the HDL and the 2007 1A 2nd place team.
Last year at Pacific University, Imbler swept Crow, 3-0, in the opening quarterfinals, then lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Dufur. But the Panthers did not go quietly, losing in five games, 25-21, 10-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-11. The semifinal loss sent the Panthers into the 3rd – 5th place trophy match against Helix. The Grizzlies and Panthers then mauled each other for another five grueling games, with Griswold emerging the victor. Just to show no hard feelings, Griswold and Imbler played each other this season in a home-and-home nonleague series, with each home team winning – in five games.
Imbler’s only losses to 2A schools this year are to Dufur (3-2), Griswold (3-2) and twice to Cove (3-1, 3-1). Early in the season, Imbler went undefeated to win the Riverside tournament, defeating 3A Umatilla (2-0), 4A McLoughlin (2-0), 2A Irrigon (2-0), 3A Riverside (2-0) and Columbia WA (2-0).
Panther coach Jennifer Teeter returns a nice balance of senior leadership, along with a strong core of juniors and sophomores. The four seniors are Amanda Bowers, Kalie Wilburn, Madeline Nilsson and Kiley Dewey. Key juniors include Stephanie Anthony, Reva West, McKenzie Tally and Sara Bowers. Imbler will also count on contributions from sophomore Demetria Thompson.
F – Days Creek (Skyline #1; 19-2, 12-0)
The Wolves are making their third straight appearance at Pacific University after winning their third consecutive Skyline volleyball title. Veteran coach Ron Dunn is no stranger to championship bracket play, having guided the Wolves to back-to-back 1A titles in 2002 and 2003. But the Wolves failed to reach the finals site in 2004 and 2005; and sometimes a 2-year break is just long enough to break momentum, especially at a small school without a large JV program to draw from.
In 2006, Days Creek returned to the finals site, this time at Pacific University. But the Wolves were quickly swept 3-0 by a pair of High Desert teams, Adrian and Prairie City, and were finished by lunchtime on Saturday. In 2007, the Wolves returned to Forest Grove, but again stumbled in the opening round, losing 3-0 to eventual champion Dufur. At that point, Days Creek had lost its last three Forest Grove matches by a combined 9-0 count. But coach Ron Dunn’s Wolves turned things around by whipping Crow, 3-0 and then St. Paul, 3-0, to take home the 4th place trophy – the first since those championships five years ago. In 2008, coach Dunn looks to move to the right side of the bracket with an opening round win against a very good Imbler team.
Like the Panthers, Days Creek has scheduled and played its own share of sparring partners. The Wolves have not lost to a 1A opponent this year. The team’s only losses were a pair of tournament losses to 4A North Valley (2-1) and 2A Milo Adventist (3-2). In that same tournament, Days Creek beat 2A Glendale (2-1) a week after beating Glendale, 3-1, in a regular match. In late September, Days Creek also notched an impressive 2-0 pool play win over 2A DeLaSalle, which later claimed the Northwest League’s #3 playoff seed.
The Wolves are led by three seniors who have made the last three trips to Forest Grove: RS K’Dean Ramos, OH Jessica Stanfill and libero Abiyah Watkins. Junior OH Olivia Goleman has also emerged as a top threat for coach Dunn’s team.
G – St. Paul vs. H. Southwest Christian (Friday 10:00 am, Court 2)
The other quarterfinal ending Session 1 pits a pair of #1 seeds – one of which went undefeated in league play, and another that finished 3rd in its league, but got hot when it mattered most.
G – St. Paul (Casco #1, 27-4, 12-0)
The Buckaroos won the Casco league with a perfect 12-0 record, then claimed the district #1 seed with a 3-1 win over Jewell. Last Saturday, the Bucks guaranteed there will be a new 1A champion in 2008 by beating Dufur, 25-23, 10-25, 25-23, 25-18. St. Paul is the last of the five schools returning to Pacific University from last year. In 2007, the Buckaroos lost in the opening round to Adrian, 3-0, then beat Lowell, 3-1, before finally falling to Days Creek in the 4th – 6th place match. The 6th place trophy was the school’s first since finishing 3rd in 2000.
That 2007 team graduated seven seniors from its roster, which makes this year’s record – and return trip to Forest Grove – even more impressive. 1st-year coach Lisa Lykins returns a pair of seniors with four years of varsity play: DS Julie Drescher and OH Kaitlyn McKillip, as well as junior setter Roree Lewis, a 3-year starter. But the key to this year’s St. Paul success may lie in its nonleague schedule, as tough as any team’s in the quarterfinals.
The Bucks began the season at the Dufur Jamboree followed by a 3-1 loss to 4A North Marion. In the Portland Lutheran Tournament, St. Paul lost in the semi’s to 2A Western Mennonite, which later went on the take the 2A TRC #3 seed, behind Blanchet and Salem Academy, both in the 2A quarterfinals. At the Amity Tournament, the Buckaroos beat 3A Amity (2-0), beat 3A Waldport (2-0), tied Ft Vancouver WA (a large WA school), beat 3A Riverdale (2-0) beat 4A Scappoose (2-0), beat 3A Jefferson (2-0), beat 3A Chemawa (2-0) and tied 2A Western Mennonite (1-1). Finally, in the East Linn tournament on September 27, St. Paul twice defeated North Clackamas Christian, which finished ahead of Southwest Christian in the Valley 10. The Buckaroos then beat 3A Grant Union, 3-1, in the tournament semifinal. Finally, St. Paul lost in the tournament championship match to No. 3 ranked 2A Nestucca, 2-0. St. Paul losing to Nestucca is like Helix losing to Weston-McEwen. It only makes them stronger against 1A competition.
Some teams in the 1A bracket may have better overall records, but few can say they played a nonleague schedule as tough as St. Paul’s.
H – Southwest Christian (Valley 10 #1; 18-3, 15-3)
Southwest Christian proved that a hot team during playoffs can wreck bracket projections and turn pumpkins into carriages. After finishing 3rd in the Valley 10 behind Damascus Christian and North Clackamas Christian, the Wildcats turned the tables on NCC with a 3-1 district playoff in the #3 vs #2 match. Some teams are content to settle for a #2 seed when facing the league champ at districts. But not Southwest Christian, which stunned Damascus Christian, 25-17, 26-24, 25-21, to claim the district’s #1 playoff seed.
That victory proved quite fortunate for the Wildcats because after an easy home win against Powers, Damascus Christian had to take a long trip to Helix to face the hungry Grizzlies, which made short work of the Eagle, 25-16, 25-12, 25-21. Meanwhile, Southwest Christian enjoyed a first-round bye before hosting Hosanna Christian from Southern Oregon. There’s no place like home in these playoffs with seven hour road trips. The Wildcats beat the Lady Lions, 3-1, to advance to the 1A volleyball finals site in search of its first-ever volleyball trophy.
Coach Rhonda Meneley’s team has certainly earned the right to be at Forest Grove this year. But a look at SWC’s schedule shows all of its games were played against 1A opponents, with no opponents outside the Valley 10 until last Saturday’s playoff match. The Wildcats are facing a St. Paul team that has played a vastly harder schedule against larger schools, beating many of them. On paper, this quarterfinal appears to be a total mismatch; but even cornered Wildcats can still bite.
*NOTE* - Many of you have said you print this preview and tuck it inside your official OSAA program. Thanks for the idea and suggestion.