Bulletin staff report
HILLSBORO — Down two games and on the brink of losing the Class 5A volleyball state championship, Bend High never gave up and never lost confidence.
In thrilling come-from-behind, five-game fashion, the No. 3-seeded Lava Bears outlasted No. 1 Summit 21-25, 14-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-10 to win their second straight state title Saturday night at Liberty High School.
“I knew we were going to pull together as a team and get it back,” said Kaci Cox, a senior who led Bend with 20 kills and three aces. “We had nothing to lose at that point, and so we just left it all on the court. It was just fun. The win feels so much better when you have to fight and work for it. It was just the best feeling.”
Bend’s Cambree Scott sparked a five-point run for the Lava Bears early in the final game, staking the Bears to an 8-3 lead. Bend led 12-7 before Summit clawed back to within 12-10 on a kill by Knowlton. But the Lava Bears secured the title as a Summit attack error was followed by kills from Sonna Faulkner and Scott.
“I knew that they wouldn’t give up,” Bend coach Kristin Cooper said of her team. “They keep fighting.”
Summit took control early in the match, trailing just once in the first set. Five straight points, capped by two straight aces by Ella Knowlton, earned the Storm a 15-10 lead. Summit then halted any rallies mounted by Bend en route to an opening-game victory.
The Storm strung together several mini-runs in the second set, including a four-point sequence that ended with consecutive Asha Turnbull kills, to claim a commanding 2-0 lead and set up Summit for a potential state final sweep.
“I just had a feeling that it wasn’t going to end there,” Cooper said. “We weren’t done. We were going to take this. Then we just got that flow back and got more consistent. We just have the right mindset in matches when we’re down.”
Four straight points in the third game put the Lava Bears ahead 17-15, and a three-point burst soon after gave them a 21-17 advantage. The Storm tested Bend by cutting the deficit to 23-22, but the Lava Bears put the game away with back-to-back points.
“We battled in that third set,” said Summit coach Jill Waskom. “Just some balls didn’t go our way, and we didn’t close it out.”
“I knew we were going to start playing our game,” Cooper said. “We were out of sync in the first two games and we started seeing more consistency.”
The Lava Bears evened the match in another competitive set that featured Summit climbing back from a 21-16 hole to trail 24-23. A service error by the Storm’s Jade Waskom, however, gave Bend the game and set up a winner-take-all fifth set.
“When you get into that fifth game, it’s kind of starting at zeros,” Cooper said. “We had a little bit of a run, and we really started our momentum going.”
Scott finished with 13 kills for Bend. Megan Bushnell had 37 assists and Olivia Armstrong had 18 digs for the Lava Bears, while Brooklynn Anderson contributed six blocks.
Haley Smith led Summit with 27 kills, Jade Waskom had 13 kills, and Turnbull added 11 kills for the Storm, which went 2-1 against Bend in the regular season.
“It was just a great, fun, exciting match,” Jill Waskom said. “Both teams played really well. It was a game of momentum that went back and forth, and it was a great experience.”