Bulldogs bark in the Lions den

Despite losing several key leaders from last year’s team, the Cottage Grove Lions volleyball program came into the season ranked 8th in the first 4A OSAA coaches’ poll. The team has just three seniors listed on their roster.

The Lions got off to a rough start to their season on Tuesday, Aug. 30, when they lost 3-0 to the Pleasant Hill Billies. They looked to rebound last Thursday in their home opener against the Creswell Bulldogs.

Creswell opened their season ranked 7th in the 3A OSAA coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs started their season with back-to-back wins over Coquille (3-1) and Lowell (3-0). Creswell also only features three seniors.

The Bulldogs and the Lions clashed in Cottage Grove last Thursday.

Creswell came out firing on all cylinders in the first set, building a 7-2 lead before forcing a Lions timeout. The Lions were not able to adjust and lost set one 25-13, despite a late push. Cottage Grove was able to use some momentum going into set two to build a 6-3 lead, but the Bulldogs went on a 9-1 run to take a 12-7 lead, forcing a Cottage Grove timeout. The Bulldogs took set two 25-14.

Creswell continued to cruise in the third set by winning 25-13, sweeping the Lions. In the Bulldogs’ first three games, they lost only one set.

Creswell Coach Anna Baltrusch likes what she has seen from her team to this point in the early season.

“I always write down what we are going to do in practice. One thing is we need to take a little more time on our serves. Maybe our communication needs to get better, but I didn’t find a lot [that went wrong], maybe with middles transitioning, but overall, I didn’t see anything that was glaring. Our team played really well on Tuesday as well,” Baltrusch said.

The loss was the second time the Lions have been swept in three days. However, Coach Abby Ladd feels confident following the loss.

“Honestly, I feel really good, they fought to the end on almost every point and that’s what we worked on. On Tuesday’s game [against Pleasant Hill], we spent a lot of time being nervous and watching the game around us. I feel so good saying we didn’t do that tonight. We fought all the way through, and that tells me we are going to get where we are trying to go,” said Ladd.

Cottage Grove was led by Blakley Herbert, who had seven kills in the matchup.

The Lions played Tuesday night, Sept. 6, at Molalla and will play tonight night, Sept. 8, at home against Hidden Valley at 6:30 p.m.

The Bulldogs played at Harrisburg on Tuesday night, Sept. 6, and play tonight, Sept. 8, at home against Pleasant Hill starting at 6:30 p.m.