FOREST GROVE – Given all the young talent on Crescent Valley's volleyball roster, it seemed that sooner or later, the Raiders would be playing for a state championship.
That time came Saturday night, and the Raiders delivered in a big way, making quick work of Bend in the final of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A tournament at Forest Grove High School.
No. 2 seed Crescent Valley was firing on all cylinders in turning away the No. 4 Lava Bears 25-20, 25-22, 25-11, giving the Raiders their first state championship. It was the kind of performance that made it a relatively stress-free night for coach Troy Shorey.
“It's not shocking, because I told them from about midseason, 'When you guys play like that, there's nobody that can beat you,'” Shorey said. “It was nice that they finally believed it. They played that way tonight, man. It's a lot of fun to watch them play like that.”
The sophomores showed the way as Isabella Jacobson (16 kills), Vivian Buford (eight kills), Taelyn Bentley (seven kills) and Kamden Mitchell (29 assists) were on top of their game. The Raiders (27-2) also got six aces and 22 digs from junior Danielle Street.
“I'm so proud of how we performed,” Jacobson said. “That was probably one of our best games that we played all season. We talked about how we were going to bring it all to this game, and we definitely did that.”
Mitchell has been setting the same hitters since she moved from Southern California to Corvallis at age 7 and they teamed up at the local Boys and Girls Club.
“It's so much fun. I love playing with them,” Mitchell said. “I always say it's like playing with my sisters.”
Crescent Valley placed fourth in the state tournament last year, its best finish ever, and came back this season to win the tough Mid-Willamette Conference, its first league title since 1979.
The Raiders had high hopes entering the tournament, but almost got derailed in the quarterfinals when they had to overcome four match points to defeat conference rival West Albany 18-16 in the fifth set.
“In the middle of that game, I don't think we realized that they were that close to beating us,” Jacobson said. “We definitely had the motivation. We didn't want to lose. We wanted to win this whole thing.”
The way things are shaping up, more titles could be coming for Crescent Valley. The team's only losses this season came against 6A league champions Sherwood and Nelson.
“It's pretty special,” Shorey said. “I bet that we have the youngest team by average in this tournament. It's pretty exciting to have that going forward, and the even better thing is we've got talent that's coming up, as well, to fill those spots.”
Jacobson can't wait to see how it plays out.
“I'm very excited for the next couple years,” Jacobson said. “Because we have such a young group, that means we have a lot of room to grow. And we also have a lot of opportunities to win state.”
Added Mitchell: “As long as we stick together, and keep this chemistry that we have going, we'll be great.”
Bend (22-5), which dropped to 5A after making the 6A semifinals last year, fell short in bidding for its first title since going back-to-back in 5A in 2016 and 2017. The Lava Bears, who knocked out top-seeded and previously unbeaten Wilsonville in four sets in the semifinals, had difficulty running their offense.
“I just don't think we were able to find our flow,” Bend coach Kristin Cooper said. “Our serve-receive wasn't really there, and we weren't aggressive in our serving. I think that was the difference. They served us really tough. We didn't make adjustments fast enough.
“The best part of our game is our offense, and if you can't run it, you're in trouble. They certainly came out and attacked us, played us well.”
Junior Chloe LeLuge had a team-high 12 kills for Bend, which also got eight kills from senior Jillian Stein, 25 assists from senior Taylor Clark and 15 digs from senior Natalie Reveles.