CRESWELL – While the Creswell Bulldogs volleyball team was swept for the second time this season by rival No. 2 Pleasant Hill Tuesday, head coach Anna Baltrusch isn’t panicking. Last time around, Pleasant Hill controlled the tempo much more, but in Tuesday’s match the Bulldogs played with the kind of aggressiveness that Baltrusch knows they need against other top teams.
“I liked that we were swinging, because last time they were being real tentative with how they were playing. Tonight we were swinging, and I told them, ‘You don’t want to play to keep from losing, you want to play to win,’” Baltrusch said. “They were aggressive, and they kept pushing. So I love that.”
The aggressiveness from Creswell was most evident in the first set of the match against Pleasant Hill. After falling behind 23-16, the Bulldogs clawed their way back to tie it at 24, sending the set into extra points. Creswell had five chances to win the set, but ultimately fell short 33-31.
“That was great to see. I mean, we had about five chances to win, and that’s the way it is when you get down those last points. Everybody’s fighting for those last few points,” Baltrusch said of the first set. “They just never gave up, and they worked hard. They work hard at playing every ball the best they can play it, no matter who you’re playing. We’ve played some really tough teams lately. And that’s just our attitude, to play every ball the best we can.”
Creswell fell to 11-5 with the loss, but is still ranked No. 5 in Class 5A. On the season, Creswell’s losses have come against: No. 2 Pleasant Hill (twice), No. 1 Sisters, No. 6 Burns, and Class 4A No. 1 Marshfield.
“We haven’t had any bad losses, except for the first Pleasant Hill game because we didn’t play like we normally do,” Baltrusch said. “We can step up and beat somebody (at the top), but you got to have your best game going. You can’t give away points or have unforced errors. You just can’t have any of those if you’re gonna beat those teams.”
One thing Creswell’s been adjusting to is the introduction of freshman Piper Hanson – Baltrusch’s granddaughter – into the starting lineup. Baltrusch said the transition has been easy though since Hanson’s been playing club and pick-up volleyball with many of the current Creswell seniors – including Creswell’s other star hitter Lizabelle Osborn.
“Both of them have been amazing. Piper is a good offensive attacker, which is good, but her back-row play is phenomenal too,” Baltrusch said. “Lizabelle too though, she can do anything. She’s a gamer. It’s fun having two really good outside hitters.
“Piper just loves the game of volleyball. She just loves the game. She takes the ball with her everywhere she goes. So it’s really fun to have a granddaughter that loves the game the way I really enjoy the game.”
With a rematch coming on Wednesday the 11th with No. 1 Sisters, as well as a matchup with No. 18 Siuslaw, there’s no ability to get complacent for the Bulldogs the rest of the way. Baltrusch said the team will be ready though, and they’ll be doing their best to peak at the right time to take on any top team.
“We’re gonna keep working. We’ve been working on some new plays and doing some new stuff in practice. I always tweak and change my team up until I get to the very end,” she said. “I always like to fine-tune my team till the end of the season, and I always like to add new things.”