Sisters overcame a Game 1 loss to defeat Pleasant Hill for the 3A title
Sisters overcame a Game 1 loss to defeat Pleasant Hill for the 3A title

There will be no repeat champions in Oregon this year after Marist Catholic won an “instant classic” over reigning 4A champion Marshfield, 17-15 in the fifth, in a match that ended at 11:20 Saturday evening in Springfield.

We will have full stories in the coming days, but let’s recap the 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A championship matches here now, along with the rest of the action today from Springfield.

It wasn’t a masterpiece, but the match between Marist Catholic and Marshfield sure was exciting and sent players, coaches and fans from both sides on a roller coaster of emotions. There were nine lead changes in the fifth set alone and that’s the one played to just 15 points.

At least it was scheduled for 15. This fifth set went extra, because that’s what it took for Marist Catholic to dethrone a proud champion.

In a match with too many heroes on both sides, senior OH Avia Tuguldur made the most important plays at the most critical time to assure the Spartan win. Down 15-14, she scored on a back row swing to tie things at 15-15, her 16th kill of the match. A few seconds later, she denied Bridget Gould’s 28th kill of the night with a resounding block she called “the biggest play of her life.” A double contact call on a tough Giana Elgarico serve completed the 3-0 closing run and sent the Marist Catholic student section streaming onto the court to join in the celebration.

In 3A, top-seeded Sisters was brilliant in overpowering league foe Pleasant Hill in four for its first title since 2017. The Outlaws were the favorites last year but were upset in the semifinals. Redemption came this year thanks to 20 kills and 18 digs from Gracie Vohs, massive contributions from the middle and a defense that was relentless start to finish.

Portland Christian won the final two sets to dethrone two-time defending 2A champion Salem Academy, 16-14 in the fifth. Emma Brewer had 31 kills for SA, but the Royals’ Finley Marine matched her with 30 kills of her own. Alyssa Baird added 25 for the Royals, who led 13-9 in the final set but let Salem Academy catch them at 14-14 before winning on a kill and ace from Marine.

In 1A, top-seeded Crane got a whopping 37 kills over four sets from senior Kortney Doman to knock off St. Paul for its first-ever title. Dorman had two kills in Game 4 after the score was tied at 24-all to clinch the title for the Mustangs.

Here also are recaps from the other trophy matches in 4A and 3A from Springfield:

In the 4A third/fifth match…

Cascade 3, Mazama 0 – The Vikings played gamely and got really nice work in the middle from sophomore Cali Bitzer, but the Cougars’ big guns – OH Kam Sande, MB Annabelle Peterson, libero Jadyn Daviscourt and setter Irene Rocha Ibarra – were all on their games in this match. Bella Oliver, an unsung senior lefty with a big swing, ended the first two sets with kills, while Peterson did the honors to complete the sweep.

Cascade, which placed second last year, was especially tough behind the service line, with Sande and Daviscourt scoring often on serve.

Both Mazama, which had never made the state tournament before last season, and Cascade will graduate large and impactful senior classes. Bitzer is back for the Vikings, while Cascade will return Rocha Ibarra and OH Emma Kirschenmann.

In the 4A consolation match…

North Bend 3, Tillamook 1 – North Bend’s first state tournament appearance in 11 years culminated in a fifth-place finish, as the Bulldogs lost a tight third set to deny themselves the sweep, but opened the fourth set on a 14-2 run to put an exclamation point on an outstanding season.

Libero Mirra Riddle was a rock in the win for North Bend. Annika Norberg found room every now and again for Tillamook, as did Lexie Graves and Kate Klobas, but Riddle was usually in complete control behind the 10-foot line, which meant few balls were going down. Offensively, Lennon Riddle and Madison West led the charge from either pin. MB Emma Spalding and OH Drew Hood had their moments as well.

Next year will be interesting for both of these teams, as North Bend graduates all of its impact players, (though sophomore Carley Lucero ended the match with one of her several aces. Tillamook, with 11 seniors on its 12-player roster, graduates virtually the entire squad.

In the 3A third/fifth match…

Valley Catholic 3, Santiam Christian 0 – The Valiants recovered from last night’s stunning loss to Sisters in five sets by sweeping the Eagles. The formula was familiar: tons of ace serves and a joy-filled style that other teams simply struggle to match.

Valley Catholic is a consummate team, one whose individual talent isn’t nearly as good as the sum of its parts. The Valiants “play happy,” which makes them more impervious to state tournament pressure than other teams. And they get contributions from everyone. There are only two seniors on this roster. They will be back.

One of those seniors, three-rotation setter Katiya Arellano, helped ensure that Valley Catholic would win in three sets. Santiam Christian surged midway through the third set to get within 11-10. A kill from freshman middle Maeve Albert brought Arellano in to serve and she served 10 straight, with at least two aces (and the carousel-style team celebration that followed), to put the game out of reach. Santiam Christian’s big guns, senior Teagan Wilson and junior Joya Euhus, contributed late with a kill from Wilson and two aces from Euhus, to make the score more respectable, but not enough to put any stress on the Valiants.

Santiam Christian, by the way, also is young, with just three seniors on varsity. Wilson, a 6-0 Santa Clara beach volleyball recruit, will be sorely missed, but Kelli Fitzpatrick’s team will build around Euhus, one of the best hitters in the state; as well as talented freshman middle Allison Curtis and junior libero Lucie Vigil.

In the 3A consolation match…

Cascade Christian 3, Burns 1 – Burns recovered from a Game 1 thrashing to square the match at a set apiece thanks to terrific setting from senior Ashley Wright, who also looked for her offense at opportune times. Danye Runnels served an ace on set point to get the match back to even, but Cascade Christian, getting nice work from senior setter Molly Griffin and senior pins Maddie Todd and Maddi Carter, started quickly in Game 3 and never relented. Well-coached by Rob Kleker, the Challengers ended the match on a Griffin set to MB Claire Knips, two of the five seniors on the roster.

Burns, which finished second a year ago, might have presented more of a threat had All-State OH Mackenzie King, who stands 6-1, not been lost to a knee injury, several weeks ago. The Hilanders got a spirited effort on the left from 5-4 sophomore Jocelyn Graham. Wright and freshman libero Bailey Temple were good as well.

It should be noted that this year produces the odd result, because of OSAA’s designation of placement for consolation matches, that the consolation winner, Cascade Christian, takes home the fourth-place trophy, while the team it lost to in the quarterfinals, Santiam Christian, finishes fifth.