The Creswell Bulldogs volleyball team, ranked No. 7 in 3A, took 7/8th in the state tournament last weekend after falling to Siuslaw and Santiam Christian.
The Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Coquille 3-1 in the second round. Creswell’s quarterfinal opponent was No. 15 Siuslaw, who Creswell was 3-0 against this season.
The Vikings proved too much for the Bulldogs though, and Creswell was swept, moving the team to the consolation bracket. In the consolation bracket on Saturday Creswell faced No. 3 Santiam Christian. While the Bulldogs fought hard, they fell just short and lost 3-1, ending their season in the 7/8th position.
“The kids were just nervous, and I did everything to try to loosen them up,” said Anna Baltrusch, Creswell head coach.
The nervousness showed especially in the first match against Siuslaw, a team that Creswell was 3-0 against this season.
“Everytime we played (Siuslaw) it’s been a battle,” Baltrusch said. “It’s hard to beat a team that you’re pretty even with four times in a row.”
While Baltrusch knew winning the tournament would be an uphill battle, there was an unexpected hurdle. The tournament was played at Springfield High School, a location possibly too close to home.
In years past, Creswell had to travel far distances to play in the state tournament, but Baltrusch said it also gave the team an opportunity to block out all the noise and bond together on the road. This year that didn’t happen, and Baltrusch thinks it might have hurt the team.
“I wish we could have had that bonding time together that we usually get when we go spend the night together at an Airbnb,” she said. “I think that really helps to make a difference to bond your team together … When it’s in town, you don’t get to do that.”
“I had several of the other coaches ask me if I had us go stay somewhere. And I said ‘No, I thought that we were okay.’ Well, no, we weren’t. We need to go and do our team bonding and be together,” Baltrusch said. “Just worry about ourselves and our team and not other outside factors. Just be in that little world for that little period of time.”
While this season now comes to a close, it was a memorable one for a coach who’s had lots of memorable seasons.
“I had more fun coaching this group of kids than any group that I’ve had in a long time, they just love the game of volleyball,” Baltrusch said.
Now the team loses three seniors, and while those three seniors were important parts of the team, Creswell returns lots of important players too.
“(Playoffs) were tough. But at the same time, it’s such a great group of kids. I’m really looking forward to next year,” said Baltrusch.
Weekend stat leaders for Creswell: Lizabelle Osborn with 20 kills, 15 digs, Kimberlee Kelsey with 33 assists and two aces, Samairah Quinones with 8 kills, 8 digs and Ashelyn Sharkey with 12 digs.