FOREST GROVE — Was there a certain magic in the air at Santiam Christian entering the 2019 high school volleyball season?
"Of course there was," Santiam Christian senior Josie Risinger said.
After helping capture last year's 3A state championship, Risinger returned as one of seven seniors for the Eagles.
Suffice it to say, they were excited to keep a good thing going.
Top-seeded Santiam Christian (26-0), an experienced bunch, defended its crown and finished the year undefeated after topping third-seeded Creswell 25-23, 25-14, 25-19 in the 3A finals at Forest Grove High on Saturday.
The Eagles were the only OSAA program to go unbeaten. They've captured eight titles since 2009.
"It feels pretty incredible," fifth-year Santiam Christian head coach Kelli Fitzpatrick said. "It's a total honor."
Junior Emily Bourne, the team's player of the match, had 20 kills and 12 digs for Santiam Christian, which topped its Mountain Valley Conference rival three times this season. The Eagles won 3-0 on Oct. 3 and 3-2 on Oct. 22.
"We worked hard on changing a few things to pull them off their game," Fitzpatrick said. "Our goal was to serve tough and to get them out of system. And it worked."
Kassie Staton's kill and a clever tip by junior Allaire Gilder gave Santiam Christian the edge in the final two points of Set 1.
The Eagles used an 11-point run in the second set to establish a 15-7 edge, and never looked back.
"We just tried to stay calm, but also stayed super excited and got pumped for each other," said Risinger, who finished with 33 assists and 10 digs.
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Santiam Christian would find a way to triumph in straight sets, igniting a celebration of hugs when it was all said and done.
"There's still the element of them being a really great team," Bourne said of Creswell. "We've played them to five sets before and played them to three. It just depended on what we brought to the table. ... Tonight, we brought energy. Our team bonding was so amazing."
Seniors Kassie Staton had 17 kills, Lauryn Penner 11 digs and four assists and Aliyah Atkins 10 assists for Santiam Christian. Shea Carley, also a senior, added three kills and four digs. Staton and Bourne were tournament first-teamers, while Penner and Risinger made the second team.
"We just work really well together," Risinger said. "It's just awesome to be fluid and work well and be loud."
Junior Breanna Dapron recorded 26 kills and eight digs and senior Jenessa Mallory 18 assists and nine digs for the Bulldogs (21-9), who were also state runners-up in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Creswell defeated second-seeded Salem Academy 22-25, 25-17, 19-25, 25-14, 15-10 in Friday night’s semifinals.
Santiam Christian was hungry, and excited, following last fall's success. Ready to go, the Eagles lost but seven total sets in all of 2019.
"We built off of last year," Risinger said. "We had to overcome some injuries, and younger players stepped up."
The team's communication improved tremendously after the second meeting with the Bulldogs, Bourne said.
"It was senior night and we kind of fell apart," she recalled. "The coaches reinforced communication and the football coach even talked to us. It helped."
The Eagles beat No. 5 South Umpqua 25-17, 25-14, 25-21 in the semifinals Friday. That got them one step closer to their perfect run.
"It's pretty impressive," Bourne said. "I'm really proud of my team."