By Jeremy McDonald
SPRINGFIELD, Ore.– It’s hard to get to the State Finals once, let-alone twice as Cascade had in back-to-back years with last years State Championship win and their State Runner-Up appearance this season.
A band of youthful players with some experience, also playing with two seniors in Lucreatia Benolken and Meah Carley to lead the way, the Cougars battled their way back to the State Championship Game in 2022. Achieving, in part, part of their goal to repeat when they met up with Marshfield in the Title Game Saturday night.
It was a tough game for sure. The Pirates came out strong in their 25-14, 25-23, 25-16 4A State Championship victory, getting momentum early in the first set that carried to a 21-13 second set lead on the Cougars. Cascade got it to 22-22 all in the second set, but couldn’t get over the hump as Marshfield took the set from the Cougs.
But there was some momentum going into the third set for Cascade, who built a 10-7 lead on the Pirates in the third set. The Cougars had adjusted well during the middle part of the match with the hopes of getting back into the match.
“I’m beyond proud of everyone that came out and played, we just fought for their lives. It’s hard being a senior and it’s hard saying goodbye to everybody, but everyone plays their butts off, I’m so proud of my team and thankful for my coaches,” Carley said, who had 21 assists and seven digs in the game. “We knew it was going to be a fight when we came into the game, but Marshfield came out super strong and they’re a super strong team. They’re very good, but I’m very proud of our team for not giving up and kept on going.”
Volleyball can be very strange sometimes however, and none other than what happened with what was to follow. A service error by Cascade snowballed into a nine-point swing for the Pirates, who turned a 7-10 deficit into a 16-10 lead before Cascade snapped the run. Benolken got a service ace and a kill on back-to-back plays to get the Cougars back to within four before Marshfield’s defense came up with another stop and created another run to put the set out of reach of Cascade.
Through the emotions and tears of the aftermath of the match, the heartbreak even of their last game together. A family bond they’ve built since August that ended on the court on this day, but will last a lifetime knowing how much this journey meant to them.
Yes, they graduate Benolken and Carley, but they return girls like Peterson, Jaydn Daviscourt and Bella Oliver who will return, retool and look to get back to the Championship Game in 2023.
“It’ll be big and it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I think we can do it. It’s going to suck losing (Lucretia and Meah), I’ve been playing with them my whole entire High School life, it’ll be hard to lose them. But we’ll come back,” Peterson said. ” “It’s hard to get back here, but it’s not impossible, we just have to work for it,”
Peterson finished with nine kills, Daviscourt had nine digs and Olvier had five kills in the match. Benolken had seven kills and five digs in her final game as a Cougar. Cascade finished the season 18-4.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald