By Ryan Clarke

The Bulletin

As Bend High prepared for its volleyball bout with Mountain View on Wednesday night, Drake’s “Back To Back” blared over the speakers in the Lava Bears’ gym. It was a fitting pregame soundtrack for the back-to-back 5A state champions, who dominated the Cougars 25-10, 25-15, 25-14, in the first Civil War match at the 6A level.

The Lava Bears are rolling as they wade deeper into the Mountain Valley Conference season.

Coach Kristin Cooper said her team, now 5-0 in league, has not thought about the jump to a new classification, but it has thrived against improved competition.

“We haven’t really changed anything,” Cooper said. “We just take care of what happens on our side of the court, and the only big change has really been travel in our new league.”

Bend’s serving and play near the net were both strong Wednesday, according to Cooper.

On the Mountain View side, coach Kate Hunter — a former assistant under Cooper at Bend High — pointed to unforced errors as the Cougars’ downfall.

“A lot of mental mistakes hurt us tonight,” said Hunter, whose team slipped to 1-4 in MVC play. “I think we hurt ourselves more than anything. We gave up a lot of unnecessary points to Bend.”

While the Lava Bears look to keep their win streak alive and contend for another state championship, Mountain View is learning from each game and establishing the program’s identity, Hunter said. This is her fourth season at Mountain View, so the current group of five seniors is the first graduating class she has worked with. That group includes Ashley Welker, Brooklyn Heinrick, Mari Callegari, Kristen Stelk and Makenna Gales.

“These are my original girls,” Hunter said, beaming. “They are doing a great job of bringing the dynamic I’ve been pushing for four years into the program.”

Cooper’s program at Bend provides a model for success Hunter and other Central Oregon teams can follow.

The rivalry between Bend and Mountain View is still intense, though, and students from both schools showed up in significant numbers Wednesday night, taunting each other throughout the match.

Bend junior Sonna Faulkner said it motivates the Lava Bears to have consistent fan support.

“It has always been so strong,” Faulkner said. “Even when things aren’t going well, they pump us up. It’s nice having them show up like this.”

Faulkner called Wednesday’s effort “fantastic” and said she sees the team progressing. The Lava Bears might not be thinking about their 6A competition, according to Cooper, but they are dominating them. Counting tournament play, Bend has dropped just two sets in nine matches this season.

“We thought it was going to be a little more challenging,” Faulkner said. “But honestly, we’re just doing our thing, pushing through and staying confident.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0307,

—Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, Mountain View coach Kate Hunter was misidentified. The Bulletin regrets the error.