State playoffs gear up

Championship finals begin Saturday
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

The high school state playoffs began this past weekend in several sports, but the big events - the state finals - begin Saturday.

The annual cross country finals are set to begin at 10 a.m. on the 5,000 meter course at Lane Community College Saturday, with individual and team titles being awarded in four classifications.

Titles in boys and girls soccer, volleyball and football will also be awarded by the Oregon School Activities Association during the next five weeks.

Championship tournaments for boys and girls water polo are set for the Osborn Aquatic Center on the campus of Oregon State University Thursday through Saturday at Class 5A, and Nov. 10-11 for Class 6A. Water polo is organized outside the OSAA.

Newberg has a three-year win streak going at the Class 6A boys tournament, while Mountain View has won the past two Class 5A boys titles in water polo.

Central Catholic enters the cross country championships as the favorite to not only win the Class 6A boys title, but continue its four-year win streak long into the future. The Rams won the Mount Hood Conference title Wednesday scoring the minimum 15 points - and with the top eight finishers. None of Central Catholic's top eight finishers were seniors. The Rams have won 10 titles since winning their first in 2003.

Summit will look to return to ownership of the Class 6A boys level after having its five-year win streak snapped by Crater last year. The Storm will run into Central Catholic next year, though, as the school moves up to the Class 6A level.

Volleyball championships will play out this weekend as well, with eight-team tournaments set to begin Friday at three courts across the state. Liberty High School in Hillsboro will host the Class 6A and 5A tournaments, with title matches set for Saturday night. Forest Grove High School will play host to the Class 4A and 3A tournaments, while Ridgeview High School in Redmond will play host to the Class 2A and 1A tournaments.

Country Christian of Molalla has the lone volleyball title win streak having won the past three titles at Class 1A.

Sisters and Crook Country, schools that played for the Class 4A title last year, met in the quarterfinals Friday morning with the defending-champion Outlaws winning in three sets.

Boys and girls soccer state title matches in all six classifications will be played Nov. 11 at Liberty High and Hillsboro Stadium. Oregon Episcopal has the lone soccer win streak having won the past three Class 3A girls titles. Of the eight championship matches from last year, three were decided by penalty kicks and only one was decided by more than one goal - Catlin Gabel's 3-1 win over Portland Adventist in the Class 3A boys final.

The state football championship games are scheduled for Nov. 25th and Dec. 2.

Clackamas and West Salem enter the Class 6A playoffs as two of the more interesting teams stemming from their histories: neither has been to a championship game. Clackamas has gone undefeated this season, averaging 53 points per game and earning the second seed in the 32-team tournament. West Salem enters with one loss and the fourth seed. A team from the Salem area has not played for the title since McNary won in 2001.

Since 2008, no team has won the Class 6A title with more than one loss on their schedule. There are seven teams this year with one or no losses heading into Friday.

Only Dufur has a title win-streak going having won the past two Class 1A championships.



Lakeridge wins first title in historic fashion

The Pacers beat No. 1 Central Catholic for Class 6A title
Nov. 9, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

HILLSORO - In one of the biggest upsets in tournament history, the Lakeidge Pacers beat Central Catholic in four games to win the school's first state volleyball title.

Lakeridge won a tense battle in the first game, survived Central Catholic's answer in the second and rolled through the final two games to win 31-29, 23-25, 25-12, 25-22, before a raucous crowd at Liberty High School.

The Pacers got 24 kills from Saskia McNairy, 12 more from Maddie Marshall and won the battle of hitting errors 25-36.

"We knew everyone was looking at us as a big underdog, so we just played like we had nothing to lose," Lakeridge coach Wendy Stammer said "This is a huge win for our program, for our girls. They've worked so hard for this, it's such a great thing for them."

Central Catholic got 13 kills from Ramey Gardner and 10 more from Whitney Turner. The Rams were top top seed in the tournament the past two years, but won just third place last year and second place this year, having won the title from 2009-11.

Lakeridge wasn't a significant underdog in terms of play from this year - earning the No. 2 seed in the 32-team playoff bracket. In terms of seeding, they were supposed to reach the championship match.

In terms of program history, though, they essentially had none - having not reached a final, and not even played into one of the final eight spots that make up the  double-elimination tournament last year. One of the team's first goals was just reaching the tournament this season.

Central Catholic was aiming for the program's six title in its 14th appearance in the finals under coach Rick Lorenz, who had won three titles before moving to the school.

And, halfway through the first game, that history showed itself as the Rams, who easily beat the Pacers in two games during a tournament earlier this year, roared to a 17-10 lead.

The Pacers, who had a 5-2 edge in seniors on their roster, rallied to 18-16 and the game stayed closed from there. Central served for the game at 24-22, but a service error gave the ball back to Lakeridge and they scored two straight for a 25-24 edge and served for the game. The Rams actually celebrated having won the game, though, 25-23 when Marshall hit an attack long, but the head referee ruled the ball had been tipped at the net and scored the point for Lakeridge to tie the game. The same celebration happened when the Rams thought they had won at 28-26, but the point went to Lakeridge and tied the score at 27-all.

Finally, junior Kacie Van Stiphout served an ace to end the battle and give the Pacers the game, igniting their boistrous crowd that spelled out a giant 'L' in the stands behind them.

After an equally thrilling second game went to the Rams, 25-23, the top-seeds began a two-game slide into hitting errors and only a late, five-point run made the fourth-game score close.


Central Catholic aims for redemption

The Rams are primed to unseat Jesuit as Class 6A state champions
Nov. 8, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

The state's top volleyball programs are prepping for title runs beginning Friday with the quarterfinals of six state tournaments being held at three sites across the state.

None of the tournaments will have as much focus as the Class 6A event, which features top-seeded Central Catholic looking to regain its spot atop the state.

The Rams were heavy favorites to win last season, but were upset by upstart Roseburg in the semifinals, losing 15-13 in the fifth game.

Jesuit then defeated the Indians in the final, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to claim its first title in four years.

The defending champions in four of the other five tournaments return.

Here's a rundown with the finals being held Saturday night at Liberty High School for 6A/5A, Lane Community College for 4A/3A and Ridgeview High School for 2A/1A.

CLASS 6A - Central Catholic's tournament run begins with Sheldon Friday morning and is likely to run into Jesuit Friday night. The teams met in the final from 2009-11 with the Rams winning each time.
Lakeridge is the surprise at No. 2 with Three Rivers League rivals Clackamas and West Linn in its half of the bracket. The Pacers have not even reached a final in their history. Roseburg returns as a threat seeded third.

CLASS 5A - Defending champion West Albany played its way to the No. 1 seed during the season and is a heavy favorite to repeat. Churchill, which took the Bulldogs to four game in the final last year, is seeded second. St. Helens, which needed a 19-17 win in the fifth game against Mountain View Saturday, is seeded third with Bend fourth.

CLASS 4A - Is there any doubt Crook County will win its eighth-straight title Saturday night? Well, the Cowgirls are seeded second in the playoffs, so there's a hint of drama. Cascade, which has never played in a final and wasn't in the quarterfinals last season, is seeded first with Hidden Valley and Banks seeded third and fourth, respectively.

CLASS 3A - It's been 31 years since Vale won a title, but the Vikings are seeded first with defending champion Santiam Christian, which has won three titles in the last four seasons, seeded second.

CLASS 2A - Defending champion Culver is back as is finalist Days Creek, which won in 2011. But, the teams would meet in the semifinals leaving a finals spot open for a team such as top-seeded Weston-McEwen, which won in 2010.

CLASS 1A - Defending champion and perennial power Powder Valley, which had reached the final the past three years, didn't qualify for the playoffs leaving top-seeded Lowell as the favorite. A title would be the program's first. Dufur is seeded second.

Regional begins with OJVA rally

The 16U runners-up from last year, respond with a 9-2 run to win qualifier
Jan. 6, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Down 12-7 and facing a spot in a the Silver Division, the girls from the Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy rallied to hold their position and win the January Power League qualifier at the newly refurbished Eastmoreland Courts Sunday evening.

OJVA beat Webfoot Juniors 16-14 in the third set to finish unbeaten on the day in the 16U qualifier that sets teams up seedings that affect locations for the three Power League tournaments heading into the regional tournament.

The top 16 teams, performance-wise, from the Power League events advance to the two-day championships, April 20-21, at Oregon State University.

The OJVA team, including standouts from Beaverton and Lake Oswego, finished second to Portland Volleyball Club in 2012.

OJVA entered Sunday's event seeded No. 2 in the region, and as the highest seed in the qualifier. But, Webfoot, powered by Newport sophomore Kalli Dixon, won the first set of the best-of-three final and led 12-7 when the match slipped away. Webfoot served for the match at 14-13, but couldn't hold off the OJVA rally.


Oregon volleyball's magic run finally ends

Ducks get beaten by Texas in NCAA Tournament finale, 3-0
Dec. 15, 2012

The Longhorns, competing in their fourth semifinals in the last five years, finally broke through to capture the championship after some narrow misses. It is the Longhorns second NCAA title, and first since 1988. Texas also played in the 1995 and 2009 championship matches, losing to Nebraska and Penn State, respectively.

Texas (29-4) didn’t need too much luck against the Ducks in the title match. The Longhorns posted a .438 hitting percentage — a championship match three-set record — and out-blocked Oregon 15-1.

“They played awesome,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “They played very, very well. Blocked great, passed great, and they deserve [it] — well earned victory for them.”

Texas junior outside hitter Bailey Webster set the tone for the Longhorns with the first kill of the match. She knocked down five kills in the first set en route to a .714 hitting percentage and a dominant Longhorns’ 25-11 victory.

Texas showed off its blocking ability, recording seven team blocks to Oregon’s zero in the first set, including five by freshman middle blocker Molly McCage. The Longhorns also out-hit the Ducks .400 to -.083, as Texas committed just one attack error to Oregon’s 12. Ducks’ senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma – the AVCA National Player of the Year — did not register a kill in the first set, but did collect five errors in nine attempts.

Oregon heads to first Final Four

Volleyball team beats host Nebraska to keep dream season alive
Dec. 9, 2012

OMAHA - The University of Oregon volleyball team celebrated like it had won a national title Saturday, which it took a huge step toward with a four-set win over Nebraska.

Saturday, sixth-ranked Oregon came back from getting blown out in the first set to beat No. 10 Nebraska 15-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-17 in the Omaha Regional final of the NCAA Tournament in front of 9,382 fans at CenturyLink Center.

With the win, the Ducks advanced to the Final Four for the first time in the program's history, and will play top-seeded Penn State Thursday at Louiville, Ky.

Thursday's winner will face the winner of No. 3 Texas vs. unseeded Michigan in the final Saturday night.

Oregon improved to 29-4 on the season. Penn State is 33-2.

"This was a good win for us, but it's also just a step along the way to where we ultimately want to go," Oregon head coach Jim Moore said.

Offensively for Oregon, Pac-12 Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma had a match-high 23 kills to lead the team for the 22nd time this season. That total was also the team's third-highest of the season in a non-five-set match (behind her 32 at WSU and Liz Brenner's 26 vs. BYU on Friday).





Crook County wins again

The Cowgirls cruise through the season and tournament to seventh straight title
Nov. 12, 2012

The Lady Cowgirls won the school’s seventh consecutive state title with a dominating playoff run in which they did not lose a set, including its win over playoff underdog Astoria in the final at Lane Community College.

In its four playoff match wins, Crook County allowed the opposition to score more than 11 points in just six of 12 sets.

Seniors Makayla Lindberg and Annie Fraser, and junior Hannah Troutman were selected to the all-tournament team from the Cowgirls, who finished the season at 23-4 with two losses to Class 6A power Central Catholic, and one to Sisters.

Sisters, seeded No. 1 in the bottom half of the 16-team bracket, had four players voted to the all-tournament team led by senior Megan Minke.

Astoria made a memorable run to the program’s first final, including a five-set upset of Sisters in the tournament quarterfinals.

The Lady Fishermen finished second in the Cowapa League and were ranked No. 7, but in the playoff bracket were only a No. 5 seed and needed to win on the road to reach the tournament. They won at Estacada, rallying from a two-set deficit to win in five sets.

Astoria’s playoff run, which included a four-set win over second-seeded Banks in the semifinals, ran out of energy in the final, in which the Cowgirls had scoring runs of seven, four and seven in the opening set.

Crook County got 39 assists from sophomore setter Kayla Hamilton in the final. Lindberg, who is headed to the University of Portland, had 18 kills with just three hitting errors in the final, while Troutman had 17 kills.

Astoria featured senior Danielle Moyer, and junior Allison Silva on the all-tournament team. The Lady Fishermen return five of six starters, including sophomore Kyra Grafton, who had 10 kills in the final.

It's a big year for women coaches

All six volleyball champions have women coaches for the first time in decades
Nov. 12, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Women coaches have led teams to state volleyball championships since the sport was recognized by the OSAA in 1974, but rarely have all the championship teams been guided by women.

This year, for the first time since 1987, all six championship teams were coached by women, including three first-time champions: West Albany’s Kelli Backer at Class 5A, Randi Viggiano of Culver (right) at 2A, and Lasa Baxter of Powder Valley (lower right) at 1A.

Teresa Zimmerlee guided Jesuit back to the top of the Class 6A, Rosi Honl led Class 4A Crook County to its seventh straight title, and Kim McLain led Santiam Christian to a third 3A title in four years.

Zimmerlee’s title victory over Roseburg was Jesuit’s third in it’s eighth title game appearance since 1999.

Here are some notable women’s coaches who’ve won multiple state titles:

One of the state’s first great womenn’s coaches led Corvallis to four titles in five years at the top classification.

Corbett won five titles in seven years before she moved to Reynolds and the powerful Mt. Hood Conference.

Vale won four state titles in six years under Standage, and played in a fifth.

One of the state’s top setters in the late ‘80s, Anderson has led her alma mater, Gresham, to three state titles and has become the head coach of the Nike Air Elite club team founded by mentor Rod Jones, who won seven state titles at Marshall and Gresham.

Rankings freeze heats up playoff berths

Football, Volleyball and Soccer begin settling into playoff brackets this week
Oct. 24, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

With October drawing to a close, the high school state playoffs begin to take shape with the rankings developed by the OSAA turning from a constantly moving list to one that's frozen so that playoff qualifiers can be established.

The Class 4A rankings was the first to be frozen following matches on Tuesday night. Rankings for Class 6A and 5A volleyball will be frozen by Saturday night, while those for boys and girls soccer go through Oct. 31 at the latest.

Football rankings will be frozen following games Friday and Saturday.

Rankings for volleyball and football are frozen by Saturday night at the latest, whild boys and girls soccer go through Oct. 31 when Class 5A shuts down.

Once rankings are frozen, playoff brackets begin to form with a play-in round for Class 6A, 5A and 4A schools. Class 3A, 2A and 1A have the number of district representatives established prior to the season and have them placed into a 16-team bracket without a play-in round.

The play-in round for Class 6A involves 22 automatic qualifiers with 10 play-in games to produce a 32-team bracket. The Class 5A and 4A models involve eight automatic qualifiers and eight more that survive the play-in round.

Cross Country teams will have their district meets resolved by Saturday at the latest leading into the state meet at Lane Community College, Nov. 3.

Here's the playoff outline for team sports:


Play-in round matches are set for Oct. 30, while the bracket begins Nov. 3.


Play-in round games are schedule for Nov. 1, while the bracket begins Nov. 6.


Play-in round games are scheduled for Nov. 2, with the bracket beginning on Nov. 9.



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