A grand battle was bound to happen when the Siuslaw Vikings and Creswell Bulldogs volleyball teams squared off last Thursday, Sept. 15. The Bulldogs came into the match ranked 5th in the latest OSAA 3A coaches’ poll, while Siuslaw was ranked 10th. Creswell was coming off their lone loss of the early season after falling to Santiam Christian, another top 10 team in the coaches’ poll. The Vikings were 6-1 before their trip to Creswell, their sole loss coming to Marshfield, a 4A team ranked 1st in the latest OSAA rankings earlier this month.
Siuslaw entered the Bulldogs’ house a little shaky to get started, allowing Creswell to jump out to an 11-4 lead in the first set. The Vikings made several mistakes before calling a timeout to regroup; it was then Siuslaw who made their run. The Vikings were able to cut the lead to 15-12 before the Bulldogs took a timeout of their own. Then, with Creswell holding a 16-15 lead, Rhianna Lane, a sophomore for the Vikings, was able to tie it with a spike at the net.
Service errors and other mistakes by the Bulldogs began to hurt Creswell and the Vikings were able to take a 22-17 lead. Creswell did respond — junior Kayla St. Sauver got a kill to make the score 19-23 and the Bulldogs later had a chance to tie it at 24 points each. Another service error by the Bulldogs ended the first set with Siuslaw taking it 25-23.
In set two, Vikings senior Desiree Tupua immediately came out with the kill to earn Siuslaw their first points of the set and ultimately the Vikings built a 9-5 lead, looking early on like they would be in a nice position to take control of the game.
“They’ve [Creswell] done this a couple of times, where they come out for the first set and it’s like they haven’t warmed up enough. I’m going to work on them getting more warmed up. They’ll come out okay, but their hitting warmup is terrible. Once they get going, they are energized by their fans,” said Creswell Coach Anna Baltrusch.
Creswell would then rally, tying the game 11-11 after junior Lizabelle Osborn scored at the net. Bulldogs junior setter Kimberlee Kelsey then scored to give the Bulldogs a 12-11 lead. Several mistakes by the Vikings would allow Creswell to build a 16-11 lead and the Bulldogs would go on to take set two 25-17, tying the first two sets 1-1.
Early in set three, the bulldogs would trade points back and forth with Siuslaw earning a 7-6 lead. However, again Creswell rallied, taking a 17-10 lead before a Siuslaw timeout. The Vikings fought hard, but after Tupa was stuffed at the net by Creswell senior Hailee Outlaw, the Bulldogs built a 19-10 lead and Creswell would take set three 25-18, making the bulldogs one set victory away from the win.
Set four was a hotly contested back and forth showdown. The Bulldogs jumped out to the early 10-6 lead. Vikings sophomore Rhianna Lane would later score at the net to give Siuslaw the 11-10 lead. The Bulldogs would respond with points of their own, but Lane again scored, keeping the Vikings in control 14-13.
With the crowd getting loud, the two teams would keep exchanging points in the intense fourth set with the score eventually being tied at 17-17. But then, Creswell would separate themselves for the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs took the lead, then Creswell senior Samairah Quinones got the spike to give the Bulldogs a 19-17 lead. Creswell appeared to have taken complete control of the match when they built up a 22-17 lead, but Siuslaw wasn’t done yet.
After a few service errors and a couple of spikes by the Vikings, the score was 23-22, Bulldogs advantage. Tupua came up to serve for the Vikings and it looked like they might have a chance to score, but Bulldog Sydney Brink stuffed it at the net and the Creswell lead was 24-22.
With Kelsey serving for Creswell, Bulldogs junior Lauren Bailey was able to earn Creswell the set point and ultimately gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 win over Siuslaw.
“We just let outside things affect what we had going on. The student section got a little bit louder and we let that affect us,” said Vikings coach Ashlee Cole. “It got to our nerves a little bit. That was the biggest factor; we need to learn to cut that out and not even hear it.
“We actually played really well. We had a few things if we would have done differently it might have changed the outcome, but you never know on those things. I’m happy with how we played, we just need to believe in ourselves and stay out of our heads a little bit.”
The Vikings had lost just three sets in their first seven games before falling to the Bulldogs. Creswell will likely keep moving up the OSAA rankings and coaches poll following the win.
“I’ve told them they have no limits if they play up to their potential,” said Coach Baltrusch.“I’ve asked them about their goals. They just say we want to focus on the next game. That is a fantastic view. We’ve just been focusing on the next game. They are fun to coach, they are fun to watch, and we are having a good time.”
For Creswell, Kelsey had three blocks, seven kills, two aces, and 17 assists. Osborn had 13 kills and Bailey ended the night with four aces and three kills. Sharkey had 17 digs, Kendyl Whitson had four kills and three blocks, while Kyla Ellis had two blocks and five kills.
Individual statistics for Siuslaw were not available.
The Vikings and the Bulldogs have a rematch scheduled on the coast on Oct. 11. The Bulldogs played Yamhill-Carlton on Saturday but lost 2-1 in the Salem Academy Tournament. They hosted Sisters, another top ranked team in the 3A on Monday following the Sentinels time of press release.