EUGENE — For the fifth time in six years, Santiam Christian High is bringing home the hardware.
The Eagles just had to work a bit harder for it this time around.
Trailing two sets to one, the SC volleyball team won the fourth and fifth sets against top-seeded Creswell to capture its third straight state title in Saturday’s 3A championship match Lane Community College.
Set scores were 25-20, 18-25, 24-26, 25-23, 18-16.
“We are fighters and we knew we had come back from worse holes before,” said senior Victoria Schroeder, who was named her team’s most outstanding player of the championship match. “We knew if we kept battling and didn’t get down that we could come back and win it.”
The third-seeded Eagles (28-2), who won their last four state titles in straight sets, were on the brink of elimination in the fourth.
The Bulldogs (24-3) took an immediate 4-0 advantage and led by as many as five points midway through the set.
“We’ve never really been behind that much this year, and the panic was starting to settle in,” SC coach Kim McLain said. “I told the girls that that’s not who we are, and once we started playing one point at a time instead of playing for the whole match, it got better.”
SC pulled even at 17 on a Leah Boyer kill and took its first lead of the set at 18-17 on a hitting error. A Schroeder kill ended it in favor of the Eagles, forcing a decisive fifth.
Neither team led by more than two in the back-and-forth final set.
Creswell led 7-5 and Cassie Cunningham’s kill put SC on the ledge at 14-12.
A stuff block and kill by Katy Paratore helped the Eagles go back in front at 15-14.
Back-to-back Paratore kills put SC on top 17-16, and the match ended on a Creswell attack error.
“That was the hardest-fought championship, and that’s how I feel a championship should be,” McLain said. “It still doesn’t really feel like we won, but I know that feeling is there.”
Schroeder had 31 kills and 17 digs. Paratore had 22 kills, and Boyer contributed with 50 assists and 20 digs.
Boyer, Schroeder and Paratore were named first-team all-tournament. Rebeka Preston was named second-team all-tournament.
SC finishes the season with just two losses – 5A Sandy and 6A Central Catholic.
The Eagles and Bulldogs met earlier in the season at the Santiam Christian Tournament, with SC winning 2-0.