Eugene — Another interesting set of teams got together on Thursday in Eugene for a three way volleyball meet: Crook County Cowgirls, Hidden Valley Mustangs, and the host Marist Spartans. The Cowgirls entered the meet looking to tighten the controls on their game and find their rhythm, coming off a beating on Saturday at the hands of the Sisters Outlaws. Hidden Valley and Marist entered looking for their first wins of the season, with both being winless prior to Thursday. Here is what to know about each team after Thursday’s meet:
Crook County Is A 5A Contender, But They Need To Put Together A Full Game
The Cowgirls were by far the best team in Eugene on Thursday, putting their near unstoppable ability on display at different points of the meet. They picked up huge set wins of 25-11, 25-14, 25-4 against the Spartans and Mustangs, but also struggled to put away Marist in a 27-25 battle along with dropping a 25-19 set to Hidden Valley. The biggest draws were that they can contend for a 5A title, but they won’t unless they put together a full game at their highest level of performance. They are anchored in the front with Senior Kendall Maykut and Junior McKenzie Jonas, with Jonas showing flashes of offensive and defensive prowess on the floor. Jaycee Villastrigo is a great presence in the middle, moving around the floor to keep the ball moving off the opposing attack, and Jenny McKinnon fills in as a great setter for their attack. With all these weapons, Crook County can compete but only if the machine can go a full game at a high level.
Hidden Valley’s Violation Festival Dogs Their Game
The Mustangs literally played with me in this meet, as they came out like a team looking to contend in 4A, then they played like a team that is retooling and finding themselves as a team. It was like telling the story of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde. As a result, the highs and lows of the Mustangs are very wide ranging in nature. At their highest point, Hidden Valley was taking Crook County for a ride, snatching their first set 25-19 and knocking the Cowgirls off balance. At their lowest, they couldn’t even return a serve without getting called for a violation and got laid out 25-4. The Mustangs have to go back to the drawing board and talk hard about their technical gameplay, particularly their setting and back row attacking.
Their play were a constant nag of the officials all night, with Hidden Valley being called for double hits over 20 times on the evening, and their back row attacks being called many times as well. With these violations nagging them, they couldn’t find any consistency after their first set of the day. On the up and up, Johanna Devos is a great outside threat, bringing some punch with her offensive fire. Deanna Dice is a two way front line player that can drill the ball past you or be a brick wall to your offense, showing many flashes of this when the Mustangs were able to play the ball. Alesana Noga is another seasoned player that doubles as an attack and block for Hidden Valley, and if they can clean up the violations to a minimal amount, we might be talking about the Mustangs in the state playoffs.
Marist Is A Wild Card Of Potential
The Spartans looked solid against Hidden Valley and fought with Crook County for a set. I love the offensive chemistry of Malia Williams, Sophia Mahalak, and Giana Elgarico, which showed their capability against the Mustangs as trio that can lead the Spartans to competitiveness in the Sky Em League. On defense, the size of Abigail Schombert, Natalie Englet, and Camryn Sydow provide opportunities to put a brick wall in an opposing offense with Tyler Harding playing the floor as the libero. They do need to find consistency and work on chaining together possessions, as they looked sloppy on the floor and streaky against a team that was handing them point after point from self inflicted wounds. Had Hidden Valley not shot themselves so many times, they likely would’ve beat Marist, which reflects the number of free points handed to the Spartans in their sweep. Their consistency will be problem with Junction City and Cottage Grove on the conference slate, along with a potential team in Marshfield. When they’re on, they can disrupt the pecking order of the Sky Em League, or they could find themselves sitting way behind the three teams I just mentioned. Its going to be fun observing this team in their future schedule!