Independence — Somethings just never get old, especially winning another championship of the conference variety or the “Big One” in Redmond. For the Buckaroos, they have absolutely dominated the Oregon competition, allowing only three set victories this season to teams within the State of Oregon. On Saturday afternoon, St. Paul continued their tear against the Perrydale Pirates in the CASCO League Championship game at Central High School in Independence, getting themselves primed for another state title run.
The Buckaroos came out firing hot in this match, opening the first set on a 5-1 run against the Pirates. Perrydale would close the gap to 5-4, but the Buckaroos responded by opening it back up to 8-4 and later on 12-5. Leading 16-7 now, St. Paul hit cruise control the rest of the way, hitting scores of 18-8, 22-12, and ending up with a 25-14 first set victory. The second set was dramatically different but started similar, with St. Paul opening a 4-1 lead to start the set. Perrydale would make a run at them, taking a 6-5 lead after a 5-1 run. St. Paul responded by taking the lead back 11-9 and they never looked in the rearview mirror, opening up a 14-9 lead and later on 16-10. The Buckaroos cruised home in the second set, leading 19-14 and 23-19 before holding off the pesky Pirates to take it 25-21.
The final set didn’t change many things for St. Paul, who opened up with a 5-1 lead on Perrydale. St. Paul held a 7-3 lead before the Pirates rallied to close in to 9-6 and eventually 11-9. After knotting things up at 13 apiece, the Buckaroos eventually gained a 19-16 lead that they took all the way home 25-20 to win the match and league championship 25-14, 25-21, 25-20 over Perrydale. With the win, the Buckaroos won the league championship and still sit atop the 1A rankings, while Perrydale clinched second place and a playoff berth in the loss. After the league championship victory, St. Paul’s Karlee Southerland, Destiny Smith, and Head Coach Lesli Hiller discussed what improvements can be made, keeping momentum, and their recipe to success in St. Paul.
Destiny Smith on how St. Paul is so successful against Oregon teams, “A lot of teamwork! I think its how we work as a team, how we know each others strengths, and trusting our teammates. Sometimes its like you expect your teammate to go after a ball and they may not, but you can trust other people to get it and getting perseverance from that.”
Karlee Southerland on keeping momentum into the playoffs, “Consistently working hard in practice, always looking to improve and not settling because winning almost all the sets, some teams tend to just stay there but we’re striving to get better and improving before we get to state.”
Coach Lesli Hiller on things St. Paul will look to improve upon, “We’re really good at taking it one step at a time, we’re working on perfecting our line up, perfecting our serve/receive, and just working on things we feel are important. We take it one game at a time, but the title is always the goal or else why would you be there, and we look at each team, what they have, and work through it one thing at a time.”