By Gini Davis
The Creswell Chronicle
A three-way match hosted by Blanchet Catholic on Aug. 24 allowed the Creswell Lady Bulldogs volleyball team to test their mettle against two strong teams – the host Cavaliers and the Willamina Bulldogs.
Creswell played Blanchet Catholic at 4:30 p.m. and Willamina at 6 p.m. Blanchet and Willamina closed out the three-way at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Dawgs defeated Blanchet Catholic 25-22, 25-23, 25-22. Cassie Cunningham paced the team with 11 kills and three aces. “She had a great game,” said Creswell Head Coach Anna Baltrusch. Kaylee Cunningham had six kills, Bailey Howell provided 11 assists and had five kills, Aleesha Fox contributed nine assists and freshman Breanna Dapron had four kills in her varsity debut at middle hitter. “She played great,” Baltrusch said.
While defensive stats weren’t kept, Baltrusch said sophomore libero Jane Marquess also “did fantastic” in her first varsity outing, and said the team overall “played really scrappy defense and kept the ball from hitting the ground.”
In fact, defensive specialists are such an embarrassment of riches for the Lady Dawgs this year that Baltrusch currently has three or four strong young players – including Marquess – vying for the varsity libero position.
“They’re all really, really good, and they each offer different things, so I’m waiting to see who’s going to step out and shine above the others before making a final decision,” Baltrusch said.
Against Willamina, Creswell downed their rival Bulldogs 25-12, 25-21, 25-21. “We killed them in the first game, but then kind of started toying with them, I think – we let them get up by eight or nine points in the second game before coming back on them and winning,” Baltrusch said.
Cassie Cunningham slammed 18 kills to again lead the Lady Dawgs. Kaylee Cunningham added eight kills and two aces, Howell added five kills and 11 assists, and Fox also provided 11 assists.
“Both of those teams are really strong, so it was good to see how we did against them,” Baltrusch said. “Our kids were looking really good.”
This week, preseason play continues at Cottage Grove, whose Lions are another strong team, now coached by a former Creswell assistant coach, Kendra Prickett. “Cottage Grove is really good, and they’re well coached,” Baltrusch said. “We beat them during summer league, but they never had all their players there, so it’ll be good to play them again.”
The Lady Dawgs host Marshfield and Philomath for a three-way match for their home opener on Sept. 5.