Lions, Warriors, and Bulldogs earn wins on volleyball court

The Cottage Grove Lions volleyball team earned their second win of the season by defeating the Junction City Tigers on September 27. Although Cottage Grove lost their first two sets of the match, they stayed competitive, losing set one 25-22 and set two 25-23. The Lions would come roaring back, led by Blakley Herbert, who had 28 kills and 35 digs.

“The team's comeback in our game against Junction City was amazing. The girls really focused on our game and the things that we had control over. They played great defense and ran a smart offense, as well as owned their mental toughness and supported their teammate,” Lions Coach Abby Ladd said.

Cottage Grove would take set three 25-21, set four 25-22, and set three 15-10.

“Getting our first league win of the season was an amazing feeling,” Ladd continued. “We have some super competitive girls on the team, and I was so happy that they got to feel the rewards of their hard work.”

Cottage Grove would go on to lose to Marist following the win against Junction City, but the victory gives the Lions something to help propel them this season.

“Even after losing to Marist, we know what it takes to be a successful team together. It takes every single player to show up and give it their all — we learned that in our match against Junction City — so as we continue, we can push to get back to that energy on the court.”

Cottage Grove travels to Marshfield tonight, Oct. 6, to take on the Pirates. The Lions return home on Monday night, Oct. 10, to play North Bend at 7 p.m.

“This year has really been quite the journey for our team. They have grown so much over the past month. I would say that their willingness to try new things and accept the coaching that we are giving them has been a great asset. We are continuing to improve our skill and strategy, as well as build our mental toughness,” Ladd said.

Jocelyn Torralba had 32 digs and Mariah Bailey had 28 digs to go with 11 kills. Bailee Fournier and Adrianna Glenn led the Lions in assists.  

In Drain, defending 1A state volleyball champion, North Douglas is once again going through their schedule with only a few challenges thrown in front of them. Their early season success had cumulated into a 12-3 record as the team headed for the Nike Tournament of Champions, held in Bell Bank Park, Ariz., over the weekend.

The reigning champions hit a bump in the road when they lost two out of three games in early September. As of press time this week, the team has showed its reliance by winning seven of their last eight games, with their only loss in that stretch coming against Monroe in the Creswell Invitational.

“We are a completely different team this year than last,” said Warriors Coach Emily Reed. “We have played through some adversity already this year. I feel like we are ahead of the game compared to where we were last year, as far as defensively. But we still have a lot of chemistry to figure out. That team from last year played together for two years. To get that kind of chemistry on the court takes a little bit, but this team is getting there.”

Part of the success of last year’s championship run was the Warriors’ dominance in league play, having gone undefeated. Coming off of a non-league loss, the Warriors would look to respond strongly in two league games against Camas Valley and Elkton before heading to Arizona.

“It’s good to get league wins before we head out [to Arizona]. Our first goal is to win the league, so all of these are important,” Reed said.

North Douglas came out hot against the Camas Valley Hornets. With senior Makayla Murphy serving, the Warriors built a 15-0 lead in the first set. When the Hornets finally did get on the score board, the Warriors brought up senior Asia Ward, who would help the Warriors get the lead to 20-1. The Warriors would go on to take set one in dominant fashion 25-4.

The Hornets were able to strike first in set two, but at the blink of an eye North Douglas built an insurmountable 22-6 lead and the Warriors cruised to a 25-7 set two win. Set three saw more authority, with the Warriors using players all over the court and excellent serving to build a 13-1 lead before winning the set 25-11.

Murphy led the way for the Warriors with 13 aces and 5 kills.

“Makayla is our main setter, but she’s also a fantastic hitter. So, we have a rotation where we have Brooklyn [Williams] set to her and it really is a tough rotation so we have a really tough server back there. We like to use her as much as we can,” Reed said.

It was the ninth series sweep of the year for North Douglas and it wouldn’t take long for them to find their tenth. The next day, the Warriors made the short trip to Elkton and made short work of the Elks, winning set one 25-9, set two 25-14, and set three 25-11.

 The warriors had improved to 7-0 in league play. Umpqua Valley Christian and North Douglas are in a neck-and-neck battle for first place in the Skyline League. The two schools play on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Drain. Powers, who lost to North Douglas on Sept. 22, and Days Creel, who plays the Warriors on Oct. 13, are just trailing in the league as well. However, it later turned out that the Warriors used an ineligible player in the league win over Camas Valley, so they had to forfeit that game. Technically giving the Warriors their first league loss in the last two seasons. The team went 2-5 in games while in Arizona. 

In Creswell, the Bulldogs are sitting in second place in the Mountain Valley Conference, as of press time. The Bulldogs beat Harrisburg 3-1 on Sept. 29. Lizabelle Osborn had 15 kills, 2 aces, 3 blocks and 8 digs for Creswell while Kimmy Kelsey added 21 assists and 3 aces.

“Harrisburg came ready to compete. They have been watching us a lot at the last two tournaments that we went to and made adjustments that made a victory more difficult, but it was not enough. The firepower and well-placed attacks of the Bulldogs, plus tough serving, was too much for Harrisburg,” said Bulldogs Coach Anna Baltrusch.