Bulldogs beat Billies in five-set thriller

Creswell volleyball did not have the finish they had hoped for when they hosted a tournament against some top competition earlier this month.

The Bulldogs won their pool earning the top seed and were subsequently bounced in the first round of the bracket against Sutherlin.

Creswell had beaten top 15 ranked LaPine early in the week and was looking for a second straight victory against a top 15 opponent as they traveled to Pleasant Hill. 

The Billies took it to the Bulldogs in the first two sets as they jumped out to a victory, but Creswell would continue to battle as they came back from that 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in five sets. 

“We had this conversation yesterday in practice about when we get behind, we just kind of think, ‘Oh, well, we’re going to lose.’ And that’s not always the case,” said Head Coach Anna Baltrusch. “So it was kind of funny that we lost the first two sets and then came back, and won after our talk in practice.”

Pleasant Hill jumped out to a lead in the first set and never looked back. The Billies had a 20-12 lead in the first set looking to close it out, but Creswell went on a 4-0 run cutting into the Pleasant Hill lead. 

The Bulldogs came within four as the score was 23-19 and sophomore Kimberlee Kelsey would serve an ace making the lead only three for P. Hill at 23-20. 

The Billies were able to get the serve back, but with P. Hill having set point, Bailey Hutchison would make a great serve for the ace, closing out the first set for Pleasant Hill 25-20. 

The second set would stay very close as both teams could not separate from each other until the final points in the set. The score was dead even at 18-18 after Creswell battled back from a couple of self-inflicted mistakes to tie the score again.

Pleasant Hill would get two points off of serving aces from Kloee Harris and Claire Crawford, making the Billie lead 23-20. The Bulldogs would continue to claw back in as they were able to score back-to-back points making the lead only one for Pleasant Hill.

The Bulldogs came back but fell just short as they had a ball go out and the Billies would serve another ace to close out set number two 25-22.

“After the second set I told them to just relax, play as a team and talk to each other,” said Baltrusch. “It felt like we were tight and tense.”

In the third set, Creswell would spring into a new life as they were the ones jumping out to a big lead. Kendyl Whitson would play her part in growing the lead as her serves would make the score 16-7 in favor of the Bulldogs. Creswell would coast the rest of the way in the third set as they earned a 25-14 third set win.

The fourth set played very similar to the second set as neither team could separate much from the other and the score was locked at 8-8.

The energy was starting to shift toward the Bulldogs as they were able to gain a small 13-11 lead over Pleasant Hill.

In the middle of the Creswell run, the Pleasant Hill student section started to chant “She’s a traitor!” toward an opposing Creswell player after she had transferred out of Pleasant Hill. 

The Creswell team would have their teammates back as they continued to push their lead after another ace from Kendyl Whitson making the Bulldog lead 16-12 forcing the Billies to take a timeout. 

The visiting Creswell parents and students would start to make their presence felt as Kelsey would serve an ace as the Bulldogs had full momentum on their side at 20-14. A Pleasant Hill mistake and a big hit by Emme Whitson would put the set firmly in control of the Bulldogs at 24-16. 

Creswell started to get tense as they could feel a fifth set looming and an opportunity to earn a huge comeback victory.

The Billies however would not bow out easily as they put serious pressure back on Creswell by responding with a big run. Cheyenne Green and Jasmine Valencia would be responsible for a four-point lead making the Creswell lead only two at 24-22. Coach Baltrusch would call a timeout telling her team they only needed one more point.

The Pleasant Hill student section chants earlier in the set were directed toward Creswell sophomore Kyla Ellis who went to Pleasant Hill for her freshman year to play basketball with her then senior sister. After Kyla’s sister graduated, she transferred back to Creswell. Ellis would score the last point needed to close out the fourth set for the Bulldogs, setting up the first to 15 in the fifth set. 

Ellis continued to assert herself as she had a big block at the net helping Creswell get out to the early 4-1 lead in the fifth set. Emme Whitson had two big hits on the outside to extend the lead even more for the Bulldogs at 8-1.

Pleasant Hill did not have an answer for the early barrage of points scored by Creswell and after Lizabelle Osborn slammed a point for Creswell, it seemed again that the Bulldogs had all the momentum. 

Creswell held the lead at 14-5 needing only one more point to secure a comeback victory, but the Billies held tough and would score five points in a row making the lead only four for Creswell at 14-10.

Kendyl Whitson would not let the game get any closer as she ended the contest with a big hit from her hit in the middle, securing a 15-10 fifth set win for Creswell and a comeback 3-2 victory. 

“I have a lot of really young kids and sometimes I never know what’s coming out every day. I don’t know if I get the super awesome team or the team that’s a little reluctant, or the team that looks like they haven’t played in a while. I just don’t know until they show up,” said Baltrusch. “I think it’s good for them to experience being behind and coming back to know what it feels like to do that and come back and win.”

The road for the playoffs does not get any easier for the Bulldogs as they welcome Harrisburg for senior night on Oct. 14. Following back to back games against conference rival Santiam Christian on Oct. 16 and Oct. 19.

Stat leaders on the night for Creswell:

Emme Whitson 

22 kills, and 24 digs

Kyla Ellis

9 kills and 2 aces

Kimmy Kelsey 

45 assists, 5 kills, 3 aces

Lizabelle Osborn

7 kills

Samairah Quinones

16 digs

Kendyl Whitson 

23 digs, 2 aces, 7 kills

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