Randi Viggiano literally had to scream her responses to me Saturday night after her Culver team rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to shock Days Creek in the Class 2A state volleyball final.
The gym at Ridgeview High in Redmond, about a 25-mile straight shot south of Culver High, was rocking so loud after the Bulldogs came back on the defending-champion Wolves to win in five sets that most of what Viggiano said to me during a post-match interview was lost in the pandemonium of celebration, the product of being able to win a state title in front of what literally was most of your hometown.
Yes, Culver is no stranger to state trophies. J.D. Alley's wrestling program is the six-time defending state champs and is favored to win a seventh straight title this winter. But the Bulldogs' volleyball run this past weekend in Redmond was unique in that the entire community of Culver was able to actively participate in the Bulldogs' success. On Saturday night, chants of “Bull-dog Na-tion!” blasted throughout the gym.
The entire home seating section was dressed in orange and black, many Culver boosters wearing T-shirts that read “7th Man” in support of their team. By the fifth and final set, which Culver won 15-11, it felt like there were eight or nine Bulldogs on the court.
Fans packing a gym for a high school state final is nothing new, except that this year it happened in Central Oregon. It's always exciting and memorable when a team wins a state title, but being able to do it in your own backyard adds to the experience. In the six years I've covered preps for The Bulletin, I'm not sure I have seen a more engaged crowd for a Central Oregon team at a state final than the Bulldog faithful on Saturday night.
The best part for Culver volleyball supporters is that the Bulldogs return the core of this year's title squad next season and that Ridgeview is expected to bid for the 2013 2A and 1A state volleyball tournaments.
Dynasty in Prineville
Rosie Honl will never say it, but her Crook County High volleyball program may be the best in the state regardless of classification. The Cowgirls won their seventh consecutive state title with ease Saturday night in Eugene, rolling through the entire postseason without dropping a game. Crook County, which finished the season 23-4, prepped for state at the end of October by playing in the West Linn Invitational, a tournament in which they beat eventual 6A champion Jesuit.
No high school program in Oregon history besides Crook County has won more than five consecutive volleyball titles, and according to Honl, a producer with ESPN contacted her earlier this month and said her program is tied for the longest active state volleyball title streak in the country.
Battle of Bend
Summit and Mountain View boys soccer games have always been pressure-packed affairs the past few years, but Tuesday's contest will be especially tense as the two Bend teams duke it out for a spot in the Class 5A state final. The Storm, this year's Intermountain Conference champions, are looking for their first championship-match appearance in school history, while the Cougars, who won back-to-back league titles in 2010 and 2011, are hoping for their second title-game berth in four years.
“It's going to be fun,” Summit coach Ron Kidder said Saturday after his team blanked Cleveland of Portland 2-0 in the quarterfinal round. “There's a mutual respect between the two programs. Obviously there's going to be a winner and loser, and it won't be a lot of fun for the loser, but I think it's good for soccer in Central Oregon.”
The Storm are scheduled to host the Cougars at the Summit High stadium on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. Tuesday's semifinal winner will advance to the 5A championship final Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium against either Woodburn or Hood River Valley.
The Summit girls continued their undefeated soccer season Saturday, routing Crescent Valley 8-1 in the 5A state quarterfinal round. The Storm play at Corvallis on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the state semifinals.
Summit, which ended the regular season No. 1 in the Oregon School Activities Association rankings, is 13-0-2 and looking to make the Class 5A state final for the second time in three seasons. The Storm won the 2010 5A championship and were favorites to repeat last year before being upset by Wilsonville in the first round of the postseason. The Summit team has been nothing short of dominant for most of the year, outscoring its opponents 85-5. A win over Corvallis (12-4 overall) would put the Storm in the 5A girls state final, which is also scheduled for Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.
Games to watch in Central Oregon this week:
Class 5A boys soccer semifinals, Mountain View at Summit, 5 p.m.: Someone from Bend is advancing to Saturday's Class 5A state final. The Storm and the Cougars have already played one another twice this season. Summit won their first meeting 1-0 on Oct. 2, and the teams tied 2-2 on Oct. 18.
Class 5A football quarterfinals, Crescent Valley at Redmond, 7 p.m.: The undefeated Panthers (10-0 overall) are looking for just their second state semifinal berth in school history. They take on the Raiders from Corvallis, who are 7-3 this year and are coming off a 14-7 first-round road victory over Wilson of Portland.
Athlete of the week: Shealene Little led Culver to its second volleyball state title in school history Saturday, blasting 16 kills as the Bulldogs knocked off 2011 state champion Days Creek in the Class 2A state final. Culver dropped two of its first three games against the Wolves before winning the match 13-25, 25-22, 16-25, 25-22, 15-11.
Contest of the week: Mountain View rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to stun Crescent Valley 3-2 in overtime Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A boys soccer state playoffs. Freshman Zach Emerson scored the game-winning goal for the Cougars in the extra period, sending Mountain View to a semifinal showdown with Summit on Tuesday.