EUGENE — The Santiam Christian High School volleyball team capped an impressive era Saturday night.
The Eagles defeated Valley Catholic in three sets to claim the 3A state volleyball championship for the second straight year and for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
The set scores were 25-10, 25-19, 25-10 in the match, which was played at Lane Community College in Eugene.
Senior Madison Gravley had 10 kills and a block to lead the Eagles and was named the team’s outstanding player in the championship match.
“It is so much more bittersweet,” Gravley said of the final victory of her high school career. “The last point, I couldn’t help but cry.
“I wanted to win it all. I did not want to go home without this win.”
Gravley was named to the first-team all-tournament squad, along with fellow senior Madison McLain, who was a unanimous selection. McLain finished the match with 29 assists, five aces and five digs.
Senior Cara Wonsley, who was a second-team all-tournament selection, added nine kills for the Eagles. Victoria Schroeder had 12 digs and eight kills, Rachel Boyer tallied six kills and seven digs, and Bella Foss had two aces and six digs.
As a team, the Eagles finished with 37 kills and just 12 attacking errors. Valley Catholic had 17 kills and 19 errors.
In the first set, Santiam Christian led 10-7 before taking control with an eight-point run to build an 18-7 advantage.
The Eagles ran out to a 17-8 lead in the second set. But the Valiants made a push to get back in the match and closed to within 22-17.
Santiam Christian coach Kim McLain said she considered calling timeout, but decided to let her team play through the challenge.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to keep going and see what they’ve got,” McLain said of her team. “You’ve got to stay with who you are. You can’t change things up.”
Her senior-laden squad quickly closed out the threat and took a 2-0 lead in sets. The final set was never in question as the Eagles quickly ran out to a 6-0 lead and cruised to the victory.
Madison McLain wiped tears from her eyes after the match as she described winning her third state championship.
“It’s like a dream being on a team like this,” she said. “We knew if we worked hard that we could do this, and we worked very hard.”
The Eagles (31-2) finish the year on a seven-match winning streak and their only two losses of the season were to 6A squads Roseburg and Jesuit.
Coach McLain has now won five championships as the head of the program (2003, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013) and one title as an assistant (1997).
She said this may be her most balanced team.
“Last year, we had Jessi Seumalo and she really carried us. This year, they’re more mature. I didn’t have to depend on one person to lead us,” coach McLain said.
Gravley and Madison McLain are both prized recruits. McLain has not settled on a collegiate destination, but Gravley said she will sign her national letter of intent to play for Oregon State during a ceremony at Santiam Christian on Wednesday.