Creswell, Sports Zone

Lady Dawgs return without hardware from volleyball state

Two consecutive losses at the OSAA 3A Volleyball State Championships, held Nov. 2 through 3 at Forest Grove High School, eliminated the Creswell Bulldogs from the state tournament and sent them home without a trophy — a rare occurrence for the Lady Dawgs under the tenure of longtime head coach, Anna Baltrusch.
But this year, Creswell was a young team; only Bailey Howell had been to state before, “so they were really nervous,” Baltrusch said. “But they still stayed positive, stayed together and played well.”
After making it to state playoffs with an at-large bid after a loss to Harrisburg in the Mountain Valley Conference league championships denied them the conference’s second seed to state, the 10th-ranked Lady Dawgs won their state playoff game over Catlin Gabel to earn a spot at the state tournament.
“It was our goal this year to at least make state playoffs, and we made it to the tournament,” Baltrusch said.
In their state quarterfinals match on Nov. 2, the Lady Dawgs fell 0-3 to second-ranked Santiam Christian, 24-26, 23-25 and 19-25.
It was an exciting game; it was back and forth, back and forth, and we were in it — especially the first two sets,” Baltrusch said. “I was really proud of the kids; they battled, they stayed positive and were supportive of each other.”
Breanna Dapron paced Creswell with 16 kills, 10 digs and two stuff blocks. Bailey Howell added 11 kills; Kailee Cooper had eight digs; Kylee Whitson had three stuff blocks and three aces; Jane Marquess had two aces; and Jenessa Mallory provided 24 assists and two aces.
Creswell then met sixth-ranked Horizon Christian in the consolation semifinals at 8 a.m. on Nov. 3, falling 20-25, 22-25, 25-22 and 15-25 to be eliminated from the tournament.
Although Creswell had narrowly beaten Horizon Christian at a tournament earlier in the season, Baltrusch noted that many of the state’s top teams are so evenly matched that at each meeting it can be anyone’s game.
“Horizon Christian is a solid team; they were really good competition,” Baltrusch said. “We knew there were a lot of teams at state that we’d played and were just as good as, but you have to be on the top of your game when you play them.”
Howell paced Creswell with 21 kills, 10 digs, “and one big, in-your-face, fantastic stuff block,” Baltrusch said.
Dapron had nine kills and 11 digs; Marquess had 12 digs and five aces; Cooper had two aces; and Mallory had two aces and provided 29 assists.
“The kids fought really hard and played well — but there was an emotional impact because a lot of their parents couldn’t make it to Portland for an 8 a.m. game and playing for their supporters is really important to them,” Baltrusch said. “It was hard, but they still came out and played well for each other.”
Horizon Christian ultimately placed sixth, while Santiam Christian, who defeated South Umpqua 3-0 in their championship semifinals match, were bested 1-3 in the championship match by top-ranked Cascade Christian, 25-23, 23-25, 25-16 and 25-17 to place second.
“I think we probably gave Santiam Christian more competition than they got until they got to the final,” Baltrusch said.
Creswell graduates four seniors this year — including key starter Howell — but Baltrusch said there is plenty of returning and incoming talent.
“Next year won’t be as much of a rebuilding year because I have good players waiting in the wings to take spots,” she said. “And even watching the seventh and eighth graders, I’m really impressed. I’m so excited for the future of our program.”



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