Crescent Valley went unbeaten against 5A competition this season in winning its second consecutive state championship.
Crescent Valley went unbeaten against 5A competition this season in winning its second consecutive state championship.

FOREST GROVE – Last year, Crescent Valley entered the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A volleyball tournament hoping to win a title. This year, the Raiders expected it.

Top-seeded Crescent Valley put the final touch on a repeat championship Saturday night by brushing aside No. 7 Bend in the final for the second year in a row, winning 25-17, 25-16, 21-25, 25-8 at Forest Grove High School.

The Raiders (22-2) put the Lava Bears (16-4) on their heels from the start, and despite a brief letdown in the third set, they finished it off in style and left little doubt about their supremacy.

“We stayed really focused all season,” said junior setter Kamden Mitchell, who had 33 assists. “We had one goal, to do a repeat. We never lost sight of that. We never let other things get in the way. We stayed focused and pushed through.”

Juniors Vivian Buford, Taelyn Bentley and Bella Jacobson each recorded 14 kills and senior Dani Street had 21 digs. Crescent Valley's serving was on point, with Street and Buford notching three aces apiece.

“We played amazing,” Bentley said. “Our serving was really good, our attacking was good. We knew what was going on on the other side of the court. Defense was on fire. Everything was working together and meshing really well.”

The Raiders, who returned all but three players from their first title team last season, used their experience to navigate the new challenges they confronted this season.

“It wasn't an easier journey, but I think we felt more confident in this journey than last year,” Bentley said. “Last year was our first time ever going that far, and this time we felt prepared. We felt very at home. We felt like we could take control of what we need to do, and we did that.

“This title feels different in the sense that we felt like we should have won this. But it feels good.”

Crescent Valley coach Troy Shorey watched his team take the next step in the maturation process this season. The Raiders' only two losses came against 6A champion Jesuit.

“This year is a little more being hunted and not the hunter,” Shorey said. “And having the mentality of making sure we're taking every match in that moment, and not looking too far ahead. Having to change how we prepare for every match, as well, be more cerebral about it.”

Bend, which had not won a title since going back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, was looking to avenge last year's three-set loss to Crescent Valley in the final. And after defeating No. 2 West Albany in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Crater in the semifinals, the Lava Bears appeared to pose a threat, especially with 6-3 senior Chloe LeLuge, a Cal Poly commit.

The Raiders gave up size to LeLuge at the net with the 6-0 Bentley, 5-9 Jacobson and 5-7 Buford, but they offset her effectiveness by making a conscious effort to limit her touches.

“We didn't want her passing a whole lot of balls, and we didn't want her to hit when it was good,” Shorey said. “We served away from her a lot, served in locations that would make it very tough to set her. That was our plan, and for the most part, we stuck to it.”

Still, LeLuge did most of the work for Bend up front, collecting 21 kills. Senior Lucy Shuller had the second-most kills with four.

The Raiders' overwhelmed the Lava Bears with two long scoring runs. They put together 13 consecutive points in the second set and scored the final 12 points in the fourth set.

“You could see in every girl's eyes that we were hungry for it, and we really wanted it,” Mitchell said.

Crescent Valley put on a defensive clinic for long stretches.

“That's not something they just do, we work on that a lot,” Shorey said. “It's nice to see them use it and apply and be successful with it.”

With back-to-back titles in their pocket, and much of the team eligible to return next season, the Raiders have allowed themselves to consider future possibilities.

“The goal is the three-peat,” Bentley said. “It's not an expectation, but we will work towards it. We'll try our best to get that three-peat.”