RON HARTMAN/THE CHRONICLE
Two Bulldogs try to block Bella Costa (15) on Saturday vs. Cottage Grove.
Playing in its home volleyball opener Saturday, Creswell High School at times appeared to be in full control during a four-set win over Cottage Grove.
CHS coach Anna Baltrusch viewed the victory – sparked by the powerful play of Breanna Dapron – somewhat differently. She said it was a hard-earned “W” that her young Bulldogs had to fight and scrap for against the much taller Lions.
“Our girls played well,” Baltrusch said after the 25-23, 25-15, 23-25, 25-17 triumph. “We have a young team (CHS has four freshmen, including two starters, and two sophomores who also start). … We’re not good yet, but we’re making good progress.”
Cottage Grove played most of the match without two key players. Blakely Herbert sat out with an injury and Matty Ladd exited during the first set and didn’t return.
“They were missing two of their top kids. They are normally a really strong team,” Baltrusch said. “We would have to play a lot better to beat them at full strength.”
Dapron posted her usual dominant numbers – 27 kills and 7 aces – after a slow start in which she kept slamming the ball into the net against a team she knows well because they play club volleyball together.
“Brea was nervous … those are all her friends over there,” Baltrusch said. “She was really nervous about playing against them.”
Once she settled in, the 5-foot-11 senior’s big hits were too hot to handle. Libero Sarah Lanz — the only other senior on the roster – had 13 digs while Emme Whitson contributed 9 kills and 5 aces. Kimberlee Kelsey (18) and Gabby Halgren (14) combined for 32 assists.
“Our players love digging her in practice,” Baltrusch said. “They say everyone else is easy after going against Brea.”
The Bulldogs (2-0) started the season with a 25-16, 25-22, 25-16 win at Pleasant Hill. Dapron had 22 kills against the Billies, while Kelsey and Halgren pitched in with 16 and 15 assists, respectively.
Saturday’s contest was the first of four straight home games for CHS. They were scheduled to host Harrisburg on Tuesday, March 9, before taking on Sutherlin this Saturday, then Pleasant Hill again on Thursday, March 18.
Baltrusch surpassed the 500-victory mark last season, but the legendary coach says she has no idea where her total stands now.
“I don’t keep up with that stuff,” she said. “I guess it’s somewhere between 520 and 530. I never paid any attention until the (athletic director) said several people cared about my win total. So he made me go back and add them up.”