Days Creek and North Douglas are back in the OSAA Class 1A volleyball tournament, and hoping to bring home some hardware.
The eight-team tournament begins on Friday at Ridgeview High School in Redmond.
In quarterfinal matches, No. 8 Joseph (21-9) meets No. 1 North Douglas (28-6) and No. 5 Hosanna Christian (23-8) takes on No. 4 Days Creek (29-5) at 1:15 p.m. The other two quarterfinals pit No. 6 McKenzie (23-5) against No. 3 Crosshill Christian (24-4) and No. 7 South Wasco County (24-8) versus No. 2 Country Christian (27-5) at 3:15.
Country Christian, which beat North Douglas in four sets in last year’s tournament final, is a three-time defending state champion.
The Wolves — who defeated North Douglas in the Skyline League Tournament title match in Grants Pass — advanced to the final eight with a five-set win over Prairie City in the second round last Saturday at home.
“The girls are feeling really positive and confident, and they have every right to be based on the last two and a half weeks of play,” said Days Creek coach Ron Dunn. “They had to earn it (against Prairie City) and they’re going there to win.”
Days Creek was O-2 at last year’s state tourney, losing to Country Christian and Hosanna Christian in four sets. The Wolves hosted the Lions of Klamath Falls in a nonleague match Oct. 17, prevailing in five sets.
“It’s going to be a hell of a match,” Dunn said. “I’m expecting another four or five-set match. We know if we play well, we have a good opportunity to advance to the semifinals. We’re definitely playing at a higher level than we were at this time last year.”
The Wolves have been led by Carlie Dossman, a 5-foot-8 senior outside hitter. Winter Woodruff, a 5-9 rightside hitter, is the other senior.
The remainder of D.C.’s roster is comprised of juniors Keziah Perez (5-8), Lexi Jackson (5-4), Lori Jackson (5-9), Cyndal Brown (5-3), Brianna Kewish (5-10) and Kyla Crume (5-7), sophomores Jolene Crume (5-6), Moriah Michaels (5-6) and Kassidee Thompson (5-5), and freshman Megan Kruzic (5-4).
“The key for us is finding the zone and staying in the zone,” Dunn said. “Not being too up or too down. Take your mistakes and flush them right away. When we serve at a high percentage, we’re pretty good.”
North Douglas, guided by Anne Campbell, is making its fourth straight appearance in the tournament. N.D. finished third in 2015, but has never won a state crown in volleyball.
The Warriors also survived a five-set match in the second round, getting past Griswold in Drain.
“Losing to Days Creek in the district tournament and fighting through two matches (in the playoffs) to get here gives the girls confidence,” Campbell said. “I don’t have any expectations with this group ... I don’t feel the kind of pressure I felt last year. If we clean up our mistakes and play our best volleyball, there’s a good chance we could end up there again (in the title match).”
North Douglas had five seniors on last year’s team and this season there are three: Katelyn Andes (5-3), Amy Dooley (5-5) and Lilly Downie (5-7).
Andes, and juniors Arianna Helgren (5-9) and Abby Whipple (5-8) saw extensive action in the tournament last year. Helgren and Whipple are the Warriors’ top two offensive weapons.
The rest of the roster includes sophomores Nicki Derrick (5-5), Natalie Draeger (5-9), Bailey Holcomb (5-5), Rilie-Jo Olds (5-9) and Hope Morgan (5-7).
“I really didn’t know what to expect this year after losing so many all-state players, but I knew this group had potential,” said Campbell. “One of the most positive things about them is they have strong chemistry and work well together. They’ve played in state championship games in softball and basketball.”
North Douglas lost to Joseph two sets to one at the 1A Season Preview at Country Christian Aug. 26.
If Days Creek and North Douglas each win their quarterfinals, they’ll square off at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. A loss by either team would put them in a consolation match at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
The championship match is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.
Dunn and Campbell both agree Country Christian is the favorite. The Cougars of Molalla defeated the Warriors in a best-of-three match at the 1A Season Preview Aug. 25.
“Country Christian is tough, they’re deep,” Campbell said. “They’ve got their all-state hitters back from last year.”
“Looking at the rest of the field, it should be a really exciting tournament,” Dunn added. “A lot of the teams have the ability to win.”