No. 2-seeded Crescent Valley won its first volleyball state championship in school history on Saturday night at Forest Grove High School with a straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 25-11) win over No. 4 Bend in the Class 5A state championship game.
“It is just such an overwhelming experience of emotions,” said Crescent Valley sophomore outside hitter Isabella Jacobson. “I’m so happy and so excited for the future and what is to come.”
Crescent Valley (27-2), which fielded five sophomores and three juniors, believes that it has announced to the rest of the state they the Raiders will be contenders in 5A in the coming years with their championship win.
Jacobson said she and her fellow Raiders will be aiming for more state titles.
“A lot of us have been playing since we were very little, so that definitely brings experience into the game, even though we’re not an older team,” the Raiders sophomore said. “Also, just being able to connect together as a team brings us that energy and skill that we need to bring onto the court.”
Crescent Valley coach Troy Shorey had similar sentiments.
“I think everybody kind of took us, not for granted, but don’t feel like we’re legit because we haven’t been a powerhouse in volleyball,” Shorey said. “I think this is going to open peoples’ eyes, and they’ll realize that our program is something to be reckoned with.”
Jacobson totaled a game-high 16 kills for the Raiders. Sophomore outside hitter Vivian Buford had eight kills, and sophomore middle blocker Taelyn Bentley had seven kills.
Jacobson said she did not expect to win the title game in straight sets.
“I definitely thought it was going to be a tight five sets all the way through,” she said. “But we talked before the game about bringing our A game, and we did that. That’s definitely what helped us carry through those three straight sets.”
Shorey said his team’s perseverance and determination was what brought the team to winning the school’s first volleyball title.
“These kids, they always continue to fight no matter what the score is. Like yesterday, when we were against West Albany, we were down 14-10, and we ended up winning that set 18-16,” he said. “That’s the kind of group they’ve been all season. It’s been fun and enjoyable. They practice hard every day. They got what they earned tonight, and deserved, because they put in the time and effort. They’re an amazing group.”
In the third set, Crescent Valley took a 8-7 lead on an ace by junior libero Danielle Street, who totaled six aces in the match.
From then on, the Raiders rode the wave of momentum and grew its lead to double-digits en route to clinching its title.
Bend (22-5) just couldn’t get anything going offensively to close the gap.
“Going into this match, I think we were focusing a lot on serving — really trying to get those deep float serves, and also passing,” said Bend junior outside hitter and middle blocker Chloe LeLuge. “I think they just had really tough serves, and it’s hard to get your offense running when you get those really tough serves, and you can’t get a good pass. Also, they’re just super scrappy. Every single one of them, relentless pursuit of the ball. I was super impressed with that.”
Bend coach Kristin Cooper, too, said that Crescent Valley’s serving threw the team out of sorts.
“Well, you’re always in it to win it. We gave what we could give tonight. We just couldn’t quite find our flow,” Cooper said. “I thought they played phenomenal defense. I thought they served us really tough, and we weren’t able to adjust. Coming in, beating (the top seed) and putting everything we could out there, that’s all you can really ask from a team. You got to walk away proud giving it your all this weekend.”
Prior to Saturday’s title match, Bend upset tournament top seed Wilsonville in the semifinals 3-1 on Friday.
LeLuge led Bend offensively with 12 kills. Lava Bears senior outside hitter Jillian Stein had eight kills.
“I think we came in with a lot of energy. They’re just a really scrappy team,” LeLuge said. “They were digging up everything, and they were fast. Even though we didn’t win, I’m still proud of where we came. Beating the first seed being able to actually be in this match, again, I’m just proud of our team.”
Despite coming up just short in the title game, Cooper said that she’s enjoyed coaching this year’s Lava Bears team.
“What a special group. I have eight seniors. A lot of them have been with me for three years,” she said. “I really enjoy them. I’m certainly going to miss that. I’ve got more to build on coming through. They’ve just set a great example. They really are the best group of girls.”