PLEASANT HILL – The Pleasant Hill Billies volleyball team officially announced themselves as 3A contenders on Monday after upsetting the No. 1 team in the state, the Sisters Outlaws. The win extended the Billies win streak to 11, including three in the past week over top 10 teams.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” said Jessica Crawford, Pleasant Hill head coach. “I’m very pleased with the kids, and just happy for them.”
Pleasant Hill went into Monday night’s game on a 10-game win streak, with its last loss at Sisters back on Sept. 14.
“We’ve improved since we played Sisters (before),” Crawford said. “We played some competitive ball and started to believe in ourselves, and a lot of that matters.”
The match started tough for the Billies as Sisters jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set and never looked back, taking the first set 25-18. The Outlaws continued their hot start, taking a 17-11 lead in the second set.
The word of the match for Pleasant Hill though was resilience. The Billies stormed back thanks to a kill and ace each by sophomores Cheyenne Green and Ruby Jackson to pull the Billies to within a point of Sisters, 24-23. It looked momentarily as though Sisters won the second set after a ball that was out was called in, but the referee overturned the call to keep Pleasant Hill alive. The Billies won the next two points to take the set 26-24, tying the set score at one apiece.
“We started off a little slow in that first set. And we didn’t give up, we came back, we talked about it, we knew we were battling,” Crawford said. “We just stayed the course, knew we were gonna stick in it. We were going to earn as many points as we could.”
Sisters bounced back in the third set, taking it 25-21 thanks to stellar play from junior hitter Gracie Vohs. The Billies’ resiliency showed once again as they won the fourth set 25-23 to force a fifth set.
The final set was as back-and-forth as they come, as the Billies and Outlaws combined for 14 ties and eight lead changes in that set alone. Pleasant Hill’s sophomores Green, Jackson and Emily Krauss proved too clutch for Sisters, as the Billies took the final set 18-16 off a Jackson ace. The Billies moved to 16-2 on the season, and are still in contention with Sisters for the Mountain Valley Conference title.
Possibly the most impressive thing about this Pleasant Hill team is that despite its youth, the Billies are the best team in the state in class 3A right now. Last week they beat rival Creswell in four sets, then beat Horizon Christian at a tournament last Saturday when Horizon was ranked No. 3.
Heading into the final two games of the season, a Pleasant Hill team that has five sophomores, three of them captains, are the team to beat.
“I think we are appropriately confident,” Crawford said. “They are prepared to work hard and earn points. That match wasn’t perfect for us, and I think they know it. But I think they also know that the hard work that they’re putting in, and just focus and dedication, is paying off.”