Silverton — Being talented and full of high expectations doesn’t mean completely annihilating your opponents. In fact, it could actually mean needing some experience and perhaps another talented team punching you in the mouth to get you back in reality, get you a challenge, get you a turning point, etc.. For #3 Crescent Valley, youth might be both their stumbling block and strength, but Thursday presented them in an extremely vulnerable position against #7 Silverton, being shellacked to find themselves in an 0-2 hole against a more experienced team. When most teams would’ve curled up in a ball and took the beating, these Raiders decided that they wanted to fight, shed the youth label as a negative and instead make it their weapon.
The opening set was a dogfight, with both teams fighting for control over the tempo of the match. Neither one could really escape until late, when Silverton grabbed themselves a run aided by Junior Rowan Reilly and Sophomore Alexis Haury, whose teamwork and momentum carried them past Crescent Valley 25-21 in the first set. For the Raiders, their first set loss came down to small errors on defense and some violations, but it ultimately cost them the opening round.
Silverton carried that momentum from the opening set into the second one, coming out swinging and being matched by an equally fired up Crescent Valley squad. After a great start, the train derailed for the Raiders, finding themselves making mistakes across the board and unable to recover, while the Foxes took those and used them to pound upon the struggling Raiders. After what felt like a never ending barrage of unforced errors, violations, and miscommunication, Silverton came out with a 25-10 second set win, feeling the momentum of a clean sweep ahead.
In the words of the Raiders, this was the turning point for them. Not only did they openly vent about where they found themselves, but they committed to making a comeback and trying to go for the dub, and man did they ever execute any better. The party got officially underway with the music bumping as the Raiders came out fighting like Donkey Kong, seizing and feeding on the energy that every passing point gave them. Vivian Buford, Emma Ball, Isabella Jacobson, Taelyn Bentley, and Kamden Mitchell are the names to know in this script version, as their performances lifted not only one another, but also their teammates serving in supportive roles. It pushed the Raiders to back to back set wins in 25-17 fashion.
The final duel was a fifth set, winner take all scenario. Silverton fought harder than ever not to go down on their home floor, but it simply wasn’t enough to avoid the Crescent Valley earthquake, which came and crashed their house down in dramatic, slow motion fashion. The Raiders took the final set 15-13, capped by a Taelyn Bentley kill to end the Foxes hopes of scrapping out the dub. For the Raiders, it was the moment they shed their youth and got irreplaceable experience, not to mention memories for a career to remember. The label of young is no longer a derogatory one, its an identity to embrace and use as a weapon moving ahead as they look to conquer the Mid-Willamette Conference and pursue the ultimate prize. Morale has never been higher for Crescent Valley and together, they are a championship contender and potentially a dynasty in the making.