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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation November 24, 2017


11/7/2017 12:47:00 PM
Outlaws repeat as state champions
The Outlaws volleyball team celebrated their state-championship victory after an intense four-set match with number-two-ranked Valley Catholic. photo by Jerry Baldock
+ click to enlarge
The Outlaws volleyball team celebrated their state-championship victory after an intense four-set match with

number-two-ranked Valley Catholic.

photo by Jerry Baldock

By Rongi Yost
Correspondent

The top-ranked Lady Outlaws volleyball team clicked on every level as they easily dismantled their first two opponents enroute to their victory over No. 2 Valley Catholic in the championship match of the 4A volleyball championships on Saturday, November 4.

The victory meant that the Outlaws have notched back-to-back state championships.

Sisters started the tourney with a Friday-morning game against local rival Crook County (CC). The Outlaws were firing on all cylinders and easily swept the Cowgirls 25-9, 25-12, 25-18. Their serving was exceptional and kept CC off balance, and hindered the Cowgirls from good attacks on the ball for most of the match.

As a team, the Outlaws were 95 percent at the service line, with nine aces and only four service errors. They combined for 38 kills and only nine hitting errors.

Hawley Harrer led the team with 19 kills, eight assists, and six digs. Sam Silva contributed 10 kills, and Ashlynn Cantwell added four. Jessie Brigham and Cantwell combined for nine digs. Erynn Ricker and Sophie Silva had four blocks each.

Coach Rory Rush said that the Cowgirls did an outstanding job on defense, and showed scrappy hustle plays that kept a lot of the Outlaws' attacks in play.

Sisters advanced to the semi-finals on Saturday and defeated Tillamook 25-22, 25-13, and 25-21.

The Outlaws came out very flat in the first set, while Tillamook hit the court focused and motivated. The first game went back and forth, with neither team taking more than a two-point lead. Sisters ended the game with two kills from Harrer and a kill from Cantwell to notch the first-set win.

In the second set, Sisters was down 1-3 when Cantwell stepped up to the service line. Momentum changed quickly as the Outlaws scored eight straight points and gained a 9-3 advantage. Sisters kept momentum in their corner and forged ahead for a big second-set victory.

Game three saw the Outlaws take control early, only to have Tillamook fight back and make it close. Harrer ended the set and match with a kill, which sent the Outlaws to the championship match.

Harrer finished the match with 19 kills, eight assists, six blocks, and four digs; followed by Cantwell, who posted 17 kills and four aces. Brigham recorded 14 digs, Ricker posted eight blocks, and Sophie Silva added six blocks and two aces. Ellie Rush dished out 20 assists.

The Outlaws were 99 percent from the service line and combined for seven aces.

The win over Tillamook forced a rematch of the Sisters Invitational Championship game against Valley Catholic, who has been ranked No. 2 all season long.

Rush said, "We are so excited to once again reach the championship game. At the beginning of the year when we sat down as a team to discuss season goals, returning to the championship game for the fourth straight year for this group of seniors was at the top of the list. We have worked hard all season for this moment. The girls are focused and playing with great synergy on the floor."

Sisters and Valley Catholic battled hard, and after four sets of intense play, the Lady Outlaws came out on top. Final scores in the match were 25-21, 25-20, 22-25, and 25-11.

Sisters started out slow in the first set and quickly went down 3-9. Brigham stepped up to the service line and served five straight, which included three aces, and closed the gap to 10-11. The score went back and forth and was tied four times. The Outlaws scored three consecutive points, a kill from Harrer and Sam Silva, and an ace from Cantwell to earn the win.

The second set found the Outlaws in a similar situation, down 3-8. Sisters scored five straight points and narrowed the Valiants lead to 7-8. It was a close game, and neither team held more than a three-point advantage. The Outlaws pulled ahead toward the end of the set, with a kill from Harrer for the finish.

In the third, the Outlaws gained the lead and then let down and relaxed, which allowed VC to jump at the opportunity and grab the lead. Sisters faltered and made several unforced errors, while VC stayed focused, posted the win, and forced a fourth set.

Sisters regained their focus and composure, easily won the fourth set, and claimed the state title. The Outlaws scored five consecutive points and took an early 11-2 advantage, and then sailed ahead to an 18-5 lead, which culminated with a serving ace from Brigham. Harrer put the nail in the coffin with an ace to end the match and give the Outlaws the victory.

Sisters' fans went crazy and shouted from the stands, and every player on the bench stormed the floor. Full of emotion, the girls embraced in celebration and crumpled to the floor in a heap. After the Outlaws were handed the trophy and the championship board, the fans were able to rush the floor and join the celebration.

"It was awesome to see so many fans and students in the stands supporting Outlaw volleyball," said Rush.

Harrer finished the match with 17 kills, 17 assists, and 10 digs, and Cantwell recorded 14 kills and eight digs. Jessie Brigham tallied 22 digs and had three aces in the match.

Brigham, who had been out the previous match with an injury, was able to play in the tournament and played like a champion. Coach Rush noted she wasn't at full capacity, but no one watching noticed. Jessie provided solid passing from the back row, which allowed the Outlaws to run their offense, as well as frustrate VC.

Seniors Brigham and Cantwell both commented on the big win.

"Before we started the game, we sat down and talked about how this was our last time playing with this group of girls, and this is what we worked for all year," Brigham said. "We made a plan to leave it on the court. We never got down, and always had positive attitudes. We celebrated every point like it was the last. When we won, we fell to the floor in excitement."

Cantwell said, "As a senior, winning the state championship was the perfect way to end the season. I wouldn't have wanted to play my last high school game with any other team. We truly gave it our all, and left it all out on the court. This was a total team effort; everyone stepped up and did amazing. We really stepped it up these last few weeks in practice and really started to work hard, and it paid off."

"Tonight we established ourselves as the best team in 4A," Rush said. " It was definitely a team effort and fun to see everyone contribute to tonight's win. We played with great synergy and calmness. Our serving was tough and consistent, and forced Valley Catholic out of system.

"All year we had our sights set on winning another title, but knew we needed to focus on the process to get there. Tonight, we completed that process, and peaked as a team at the right time. I am so proud of the girls and coaches for working hard and putting in all those hours to bring home the 4A State Championship."

Harrer and Cantwell both were first-team all-tournament selections, and Brigham was named second-team all-tournament.









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