The Class 1A state volleyball finals in Redmond came down to two unbeaten teams — the Powder Valley Badgers and St. Paul Buckaroos.
And although it was the Badgers who were denied a second state title, Head Coach Marji Lind was proud of her team’s effort in one of the best seasons in program history.
“It’s awesome to take second in state,” Lind said. “It’s a huge honor. The girls worked really hard for it and they’re excited. Of course, you want to walk away with first, but not every team is going to be able to do that.”
Saturday’s title match went to the Buckaroos in four sets, 25-16, 12-25, 25-6, 25-12, behind 21 kills from Isabelle Wyss and 19 by Erin Counts.
“They were tough. They’re an excellent squad,” Lind said. “They make very, very few mistakes.”
The teams traded points much of the first set, one Lind called “lights out volleyball.”
“It was outstanding volleyball to watch (no matter) which side you were for,” she said.
A late 7-0 run, though, gave the set to the Buckaroos.
What followed was a second set Lind said was “magic.” The Badgers put together a strong attack and an impenetrable defense to do something nobody in 1A had done all season — take a set from St. Paul. Powder Valley scored eight of the first nine points and never looked back.
“Everybody was firing on every single cylinder,” Lind said. “It was like we couldn’t do anything wrong. I don’t know how many blocks (we had), but we just shut down their two big swingers. They could not get a ball across the net.”
The Badgers finished with six blocks in the set, with Belle Blair notching three solo blocks and three block assists to lead the defense.
But everything turned against Powder Valley in the third, when the Buckaroos used a 17-0 run to take a 19-3 lead.
“The first two (sets) we played outstanding,” senior Logan Nedrow said. “We were strong and confident. The third (set) we got in a lull and couldn’t come out of it.”
The Buckaroos’ momentum carried into the fourth set, beginning with a 15-4 run that put St. Paul in control.
“We all worked hard the entire game. The cards didn’t fall right, but everyone gave it 110 percent effort,” Nedrow said. “It was cool to get an
opportunity to play St. Paul. We were in the championship game, and very few teams are able to say that.”
Blair led the Badgers in the title match with 14 kills and added five solo blocks and six block assists. The Badgers had 12 blocks as a team. Megan Bingham had six kills and 11 assists, Brooke Allen had 13 assists, Bailey Cole had 12 digs and Hollie Minor added 11 digs.
The loss brings the season to a close at 33-1 for the Badgers, their fourth runner-up finish in program history. It also was the final match for six seniors who Lind called “unique.”
“They were a magic group of girls and leaders, and they really were the core,” she said.
Also at state
The Badgers opened play with their fifth victory of the season against the Joseph Eagles, sweeping their Old Oregon League rivals in the quarterfinals, 26-24, 25-17, 25-15.
“They did an excellent job against Joseph,” Lind said. “They served really tough (and) made very few unforced errors. They knew exactly who we needed to focus on, and we built the defense around that.”
Later Friday, the Badgers shook off a first-set loss to Hosanna Christian in the semifinals to win in four sets, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-17.
“We dropped the first set, then said, ‘We’ve learned (what they do), and we’ve got the feel, so let’s go out and do this,’” Lind said. “They took care of it. Hitters were swinging well, the blocking game was there, (and) we took care of business.”
Saturday morning, the Eagles, who finished the season with a record of 24-10, were eliminated with a straight-set loss to Crosshill Christian in the consolation round, 25-21, 25-22, 25-19.
Stats were not provided for the quarterfinal, semifinal or consolation matches.