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Comets pound Lebanon, qualify for QFs

CENTRAL POINT — The Crater Comets are headed to the OSAA Class 5A state tournament with a chance to make program history after another dominant performance.

Crater overcame some early jitters and a third-set scare to trounce Lebanon, 25-17, 25-21, 25-19, Saturday at Crater High School, clinching a spot in next week’s eight-team state tourney.

The third-ranked Comets (20-2), who have won four straight and 13 of their last 14 overall, will face sixth-ranked Ridgeview (21-6) in the state quarterfinals Friday at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. A win by Crater would guarantee for the Comets the first state trophy in program history.

“They were pretty excited,” Crater coach Leaf Jensen said. “We’ve been working for this for a good long time. We have 10 seniors who have been playing together since seventh grade at Scenic (Middle School). So this is a home-grown crew. We’ve been coaching these kids since they were 11 or 12 years old, so it’s pretty special.”

Crater got off to a shaky start but still managed to win the first set handily. Lebanon (9-13), which finished fifth in the Mid-Willamette Conference, rallied to take a lead midway through the third set before the Midwestern League-champion Comets pulled it together to finish off its 14th sweep of the season.

“We took a time-out (in the third set) and talked about relaxing,” Jensen said. “We were just kind of tight, afraid to lose kind of thing. And then we just got into a good rotation ...and never gave up the lead again.”

That good rotation featured senior defensive specialist Heather Colmer, who had two aces to lead the Comets’ match-clinching surge. Colmer finished with nine digs and three aces.

Senior middle blocker Addison Lowder was Crater’s workhorse with 14 kills and two solo blocks.

“They couldn’t stop (Lowder),” Jensen said.

Rane Jensen had a team-high 11 digs, Nehkyah Ellis 12 kills, seven digs and two blocks and Jadyn Carothers 38 assists and two aces.

Crater last advanced to the state tournament in 2014, when it went 0-2 there.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, RAINIER 0: Cascade Christian reached the 3A state tournament for the fifth straight year and seventh out of the last eight with the 25-11, 25-9, 25-6 home playoff victory.

The top-ranked Challengers (21-5) will open defense of consecutive state titles at 8 a.m. Friday against Burns (19-7) at Forest Grove High.

Returning 3A player of the year Caroline McMahon had an all-around match and led a Cascade balanced-attack with eight kills, eight aces and 13 digs.

The Challengers received six kills from sophomore right side Hannah Stanfield, while Kaylee Cannon, Gabbi Burton and Kara Palmer put down four kills apiece.

HORIZON CHRISTIAN 3, ST. MARY’S 0: At Tualatin, St. Mary’s couldn’t overcome a rough night behind the service line against the sixth-seeded Hawks, who took advantage of 11 Crusaders’ service errors to win 25-9, 29-27, 25-16, in the first round of the OSAA Class 3A state playoffs. The victory advanced Horizon Christian (15-4) to the eight-team state tournament, where they will face third-seeded South Umpqua in a quarterfinal match Friday morning.

Senior Katie Rietmann had six blocks and five kills to lead St. Mary’s (10-15), while Hallie Shean added four kills, eight digs and was 9-for-10 behind the service stripe with an ace. Also for St. Mary’s Natalie Thickett had eight kills, Abbie Christman six blocks and Ashley Gurr 11 assists.

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