REDMOND — Bulldog Nation went berserk for this one.
Playing less than 30 minutes from home in front of what seemed like their entire hometown, Culver High rallied to knock off Days Creek in five games Saturday night to win the Class 2A state volleyball championship.
Shealene Little produced 16 kills, Gabrielle Alley added 10 kills and 13 digs, and Jahnie Cleveland dished out 24 assists as the Bulldogs dethroned 2011 state champion Days Creek at Ridgeview High, 13-25, 25-22, 16-25, 25-22, 15-11.
“As soon as it went to the fifth game, I knew we had it,” beamed Culver coach Randi Viggiano. “These girls believe, believe, believe!”
The Bulldogs (26-5 overall), whose last loss was way back in September, struggled early in front of a gym filled with black-and-orange-clad supporters. Little was almost unstoppable late, though, and Culver forced a game five.
In the fifth and final set the two teams were tied 6-6 early on, but Little served three straight points to give the Bulldogs a 9-6 lead that finally created some separation. With Culver ahead 13-11 and freshman Lynze Schonneker at the service line — she was textbook on both serves — Alley recorded a kill to give Culver a 14-11 lead before senior Cassandra Fulton ended her high school career with a kill that gave the Bulldogs their second state title in school history.
“We just all came together,” said Little, who was named Culver's outstanding player of the match.
The grandstands at Ridgview exploded the instant Fulton's final kill hit the court, with hats flying onto the floor.
“It doesn't matter if we were 30 miles or 300 miles away, our fans would be here,” Viggiano said. “They're the best.”
Fulton added seven kills and two blocks, and Cleveland added two service aces.
In just her third season guiding the Bulldogs, Viggiano, who coaches the team with her husband, Nick, has turned Culver into one of the premier programs in 2A. The Bulldogs went 2-1 at state a year ago and finished fourth, with their only loss coming to Days Creek in the quarterfinal round.
“It was nice to get them back after last year,” Little said.
Isabel Golemon led the Wolves with 16 kills and 16 digs. Days Creek, like Culver, loses just two seniors.
A protege of Crook County coach Rosie Honl, Viggiano said she received a call from her former boss earlier in the day telling her, “Let's do this together!” Honl did her part first, winning her seventh consecutive state title with the Cowgirls at the Class 4A tournament in Eugene about an hour before her pupil captured her first crown.
“I can't wait to call her,” Viggiano said. “I'm proud to carry on her legacy.”