PHS senior Ava Theurer a solid outing in the team’s 4A playoff match Saturday at Crook County. (File photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

The Philomath High School volleyball team’s season ended Saturday in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs with a three-set loss at Crook County. The Prineville school posted the win, 25-15, 25-15 and 25-19.

The Warriors were unable to establish any type of rhythm in the match with Crook County’s play at the net combined with a solid defense that consistently turned away Philomath’s attempts to score.

Philomath ends the season with a 14-9 record. Crook County will take a 19-9 record into the 4A tournament Nov. 3-4 in Springfield.

“It’s really hard to beat a team who stays in system all night,” PHS Autumn Hilberg said. “It would have been easy for us to give up, but I’m proud of the fight we had as a whole in that third set.”

The Cowgirls (19-9) trailed only once all evening — 1-0 in the first set when PHS freshman Nora Stanley got a kill. But after giving up that first point, Crook County responded with a 9-1 run to establish a level of momentum that continued for the home squad throughout the evening.

Ahnika Tryon’s block ended a 6-0 Crook County run to make the score 9-3. Clara Stanley had a couple of hits — one nicely placed in the back left corner for the team’s fourth point — and the Cowgirls had a handful of unforced errors to pull the Warriors to within 14-9.

The home team went on to build a 19-10 lead and finished out the set for the early advantage — the winner coming on a hit by sophomore Lillimae Brumble.

In the second set, Crook County again had an early advantage with leads of 4-0 and 9-1. The Warriors battled back to within 12-8 at one point. During a stretch of five straight PHS points, Ava Theurer had a hand in at least three points with a kill for the sideout, going up for a block with teammate Madison Juhl and then scoring on a hit with an assist to Avery Smith.

“Ava Theurer had a great match,” Hilberg said. “She brought the energy up every time she was in.”

The two teams then traded points and Crook County methodically regained the advantage to build a 19-11 lead. From there, it was only a matter of time with the Cowgirls winning the set again on a Brumble hit.

Philomath pushed Crook County a little harder in the third set. The Cowgirls again had early success with a 5-0 lead. The Warriors counterattacked, however, and trailed just 8-6 to tighten things up. Tryon put one away at the net on the first point and Ashleigh Brown placed the ball into the right corner for the second point. Brown had another effective hit on the team’s third point and the Cowgirls had some balls go wide and long.

Crook County regrouped and maintained the lead but Philomath continued to hang around and trailed by just two points as late as 21-19. 

Nora Stanley, Theurer, Clara Stanley, Tryon and Juhl all came up with plays and Tryon and Brown teamed up on a block along the way. On Philomath’s 18th point, Madison Provance made a diving save to keep the ball alive and Crook County ended up with a net violation.

But Crook County proved to be too strong in the end and finished the match with five straight points. The Cowgirls, seeded seventh, will face No. 2 Marist Catholic in the quarterfinals.

In other first-round matches involving Oregon West teams, fourth-seeded Cascade moved on to the tournament with a 25-15, 25-23, 25-13 win over No. 13 Estacada. Stayton, seeded 14th, lost to No. 3 Mazama, 25-14, 25-18, 25-16.