Top-tier programs in 3A volleyball took the court at Creswell high school this past week. The Highlanders from Burns made the long trip over the mountain and the Sutherlin Bulldogs, a former conference foe to Creswell, got ready to face each other in a battle of the highly competitive programs.
A pre-season poll done by OSAA that asked volleyball coaches all over the state in 3A had Burns ranked second, Creswell ranked fourth, and Sutherlin ranked fifth.
Creswell faced some stiff competition earlier in their first couple of non-league games as they battled another top 10 pre-season ranked team in the 2A division; Lowell. The Bulldogs defeated Lowell and Reedsport in five sets.
Burns and Creswell took the court for the first game and the Highlanders were looking to get even since their last bout in 2019. The Bulldogs defeated Burns in the quarter-finals of the 3A state tournament. The first set was a real back and forth with the two teams not really separating much until Burns senior, Kaitlyn Wright had a big swing followed by an ace to give them a 15-19 lead, forcing Creswell to call a timeout.
After the timeout for the Bulldogs, they went on a 5-0 run to capture the lead at 20-19. The back and forth continued when Creswell led 24-22 in the first and with a beautiful down-the-line hit from Creswell senior Emme Whitson, they were on their way to close the set.
After a missed serve from Creswell followed by a Burns block at the net, the score was tied again at 25 and after a couple of quick points from Burns, they closed the set 27-25 over Creswell.
Starting the second set Creswell came out with a new focus and jumped on Burns 12-5 forcing them to call their first timeout. Burns would cut the lead later in the set to only four at 16-12 but after a big block by sophomore Kyla Ellis and another big hit from Emme Whitson the Bulldogs were able to secure the second set tying the game at one set apiece.
In the third set, another battle as the teams were tied up at nine until Burns ran off a few points in a row to grab the 13-9 lead. Creswell tried to end their momentum by calling a timeout but Burns continued to rollas they ran away with the fourth set winning it 25-14 giving them a 2-1 lead.
All signs were pointing to a five-set thriller and Creswell started out with an 8-5 lead in the fourth, but Burns again would not go away quietly. The Highlanders fought back and cut the lead to only one for Creswell at 12-11 but Burns would quickly take hold of the momentum and leave them behind to finish the set with a victory of 25-17 for Burns’ first win of the night.
Sutherlin was able to put pressure on Burns pushing them to five sets, but Burns was able to close the door on Sutherlin in a very tight fifth set going unscathed on the evening. Creswell aimed their sights on Sutherlin as the showdown of the Bulldogs got underway.
Kyla Ellis sparked a run for Creswell with her serves as she propelled the team to a six-nothing run ahead of Sutherlin, forcing them to try and stop Creswell’s momentum with a timeout. But Creswell could not be stopped in the first set as they proved why they were ranked in the top four to start the season. Creswell swept the three sets as they went 25-14, 25-15, 25-16 earning themselves top dog over Sutherlin.
Creswell will hit the road for their next two games as they travel to face the South Umpqua Lancers on Sept. 7 and face the Douglas Trojans on Sept. 9 both at 6 p.m.
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