Creswell takes home 4th place and Sportsmanship trophy

Kendrick Murphy/CG Sentinel

Both elation and agony moved through the Creswell volleyball team during the past weekend. The Bulldogs fought their way through two tough five-set matches against Sutherlin and Catlin Gabel.

While neither result favored Creswell, they were still able to take home a fourth-place trophy and the Sportsmanship trophy as their season has officially come to an end.

The Eagles got off to a blistering start with everything going their way in the first set early as they took a quick 14-2 lead over Creswell. Elsa McDermott and Natalie Potter lead the way for Catlin Gabel with their big hits and well-placed serves as they overwhelmed Creswell in the first set to win 25-10. 

The second set was much closer as Creswell started to play more aggressively. Senior Captain Emme Whitson made three big hits late in the set as Creswell was clinging to a two-point lead looking to closeout Catlin Gabel at 22-20. The Eagles called a timeout and McDermott scored two points back-to-back as Catlin Gabel tied the game back at 22. 

Catlin Gabel’s momentum continued as a Creswell hit went out and McDermott served another ace giving The Eagles a two-point lead 24-22. 

But Creswell didn’t panic and responded with a run of their own. Whitson scored back-to-back hits, Catlin Gabel hit the ball into the net giving Creswell back the lead 25-24. 

Kendyl Whitson’s serving run had helped propel the Bulldogs back in front and her last serve of the set was an ace that split the Catlin Gabel defense and gave Creswell a 26-24 set win. 

Set three was also close until Lizabelle Osborn and Kendyl Whitson sparked a 7-0 Creswell run to grab the lead for the Bulldogs at 18-15. Catlin Gabel scored twice off Creswell’s mistakes to make the score 22-19 still in favor of Creswell.

But Catlin Gabel’s late attempt to rally wasn’t enough as Emme Whitson and Osborn combined for the last three Creswell points to close out the third set for the Bulldogs 25-20.

As Creswell held a 2-1 set lead nearing a victory, Catlin Gabel did not plan on going down easily in the fourth set. McDermott led the comeback for The Eagles as her two aces broke a 6-6 tie in giving Catlin Gabel a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

Creswell failed to string consecutive points together and Catlin Gabel managed to take advantage of The Bulldogs offensive woes. McDermott again served two aces in a row giving Catlin Gabel a 24-13 lead. And after a hit in by Kendyl Whitson Catlin Gabel’s Bianca Haldorsen responded with a hit of her own to close out the fourth set for The Eagles 25-14. 

With having been in the same position less than 24 hours prior against Sutherlin, Creswell looked like they had an advantage. Sophomore Kyla Ellis made a big block at the net spurring a great reaction from the Creswell crowd. Catlin Gabel responded ripping off a 5-0 run to snatch the lead back from Creswell at 8-6 forcing The Bulldogs to take a timeout. 

Though the Bulldogs snapped the long run by Catlin Gabel, The Eagles were still in control, and being led by four after a block and McDermott hit made the score 11-7. 

Creswell called another timeout trying to not let the game slip away, Emme Whitson and Lauren Bailey combined for back-to-back points making the lead only three for Catlin Gabel 12-9. Haldorsen hit the ball in for Catlin Gabel who was on the verge of closing out the game leading 14-11. 

Emme Whitson knew this was her last game for Creswell and like her teammates, gave everything she had scoring two more points for the Bulldogs as the lead was now one at 14-13. But on the ensuing play, Potter slammed the door closed on Creswell’s comeback as her hit was the final point Catlin Gabel needed to win the game. 

“I feel like it’s really special for us because we’re a pretty young team,” said Creswell Senior Emme Whitson after the Catlin Gabel game. “I just feel very proud of my team for making at least to state. That was our goal this whole season was make it to Corvallis. And the fact that we did that is we got a trophy and that’s all we wanted to do.”

Though the result wasn’t what the Bulldogs were hoping for, Coach Baltrusch still praised her team for making it to that point. “I’m really proud of them that they even made it this far,” said Baltrsuch. “They deserved to be here. They were as good as any of the other teams that we’re here.” Baltrusch added, “I’m also excited that I have so many young kids coming back next year. We’ll be filling one important starter spot but we’ll be back.

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