The post-match faces Saturday didn’t carry with them the broad smiles that Crater volleyball coach Leaf Jensen said his team deserves after a stellar season, but he expects that all to change once their total accomplishment settles in for the Comets.
After suffering a stunning upset loss to No. 6 seed Ridgeview in Friday’s state tournament opener at Liberty High in Hillsboro, third-seeded Crater was left to rebound in consolation play Saturday. Ridgeview went on to advance to Saturday’s state final.
The Comets stormed out of the gates to win going away in a 25-19, 25-14, 25-19 romp over Crook County to put themselves in the fourth-place final, then showed that same early fire against Hood River Valley before ultimately fizzling out in a 10-25, 25-21, 25-20, 22-25, 15-13 setback.
By finishing sixth, Crater (21-4) was able to secure its first state trophy in program history.
“The girls were pretty disappointed, especially with that last one,” said Jensen. “It was pretty close after we had come back and felt that we could win it, but there’s still a lot of satisfaction. These girls have put in a lot of hard work since seventh grade together.”
“For us it’s a great accomplishment; it’s nice to get a trophy,” added the coach. “The girls will have that forever. They’ve got a banner for an undefeated conference season and a trophy from the state tournament, if you’re not happy with that then I don’t what to say.”
To earn a chance at a trophy, Crater had to get through a Crook County team that had beaten them earlier in the year in the Rogue Valley Classic, and that proved to be no problem. Senior outside hitter Nehkyah Ellis and senior middle Maya Van Hook each posted 12 kills and senior middle Addy Lowder added 10 kills in the runaway win.
“We really spread the ball around really well in that match and that’s what made it roll pretty smoothly for us,” said Jensen, “because they couldn’t just pick one person, we were spread out all over in our attack.”
The Comets also got five kills from sophomore outside Ashtyn Slater, while senior libero Rane Jensen added 15 digs and senior defensive specialists Aubrey Kievit and Heather Colmer each had seven digs against Crook County.
In the trophy match, Van Hook, Ellis and Lowder again started strong but the Comets couldn’t keep up their torrid pace. After winning the fourth set to force a deciding final set, Crater fell behind early against Hood River Valley and couldn’t get over the hump.
“In the fifth we trailed the whole time,” said Jensen. “We were down by four points twice and caught up twice, within one point the second time, but we just couldn’t make up the difference. We just gave them too much of a head start.”
Van Hook had 14 kills and Ellis added 12 kills and 12 digs to pace the Comets, with Lowder scoring 12 kills. Jensen had 15 digs, Colmer added 10 digs and Kievit had six digs, but too many overall hitting errors proved costly.