Volleyball: RedHawks sweep Pierce in Arbuckle

Colusa's Hannah Taylor and Jessica Hickel attempt to block a Alexis Dorantes attack in Thursday's game in Arbuckle. Taylor was a force at the net for the RedHawks with eight total blocks in their three-game sweep of the Bears.

In front of a large crowd and a loud and rowdy student section at Pierce High School on Thursday, the Colusa RedHawks earned a 3-0 sweep of the Bears in a Sacramento Valley League match-up, beating their cross-county rivals by scores of 25-18, 25-18, and 25-20.

Up above the Pierce student section, there were posters that read ‘Pluck the Redhawks’ and ‘Look at all those Chickens,’ as well as a caricature of Colusa’s mascot, with a RedHawk head painted on top of a plucked chicken body. Pierce’s student section doubled down on the chicken references in their chants from the stands – but the RedHawks were no chickens on Thursday evening. At the end of the final game, as Colusa celebrated their win over the Bears, Amber Morales looked at a teammate, turned hear head back toward Pierce’s student section on the opposite side of the court, and said with a smile: “Call us chickens again.”

It wasn’t loud enough for anyone across the court to hear, but Morales’ statement was redundant: As a team, Colusa came out and showed Pierce that they were the furthest thing from flightless table-fare.

The RedHawks offense – led by Gillian Ayala, who had 15 kills in the match – called to mind a bird of prey: high-flying, keen, and deadly. In addition to Ayala, setter Annie Lay also looked to Hannah Taylor and Jessica Hickel, who finished the match with seven kills apiece. On defense – when Pierce’s attacks managed to get the blocks of Taylor, Morales, and Carly Lay at the net – Colusa covered the court well: Abby Huskey, Cynthia Velazquez had 15 and 12 digs, respectively, and Annie Lay, Jessica Hickel, and Mia Critchfield each had at least eight digs apiece. While those girls led the way, head coach Tina Lyons said it was an outstanding effort from the entire team that pushed Colusa past Pierce.

“We have 13 girls, and we need all 13 to do their part to really play to our potential,” said Lyons. “Everyone did their part tonight. We hit the ball well, and we dug well, too. I can’t complain. They played their hearts out tonight.”

In the first game, the RedHawks were up 14-10 and looked as if they would pull away when Annie Lay stepped to the service line. Lay served four straight points – with a kill of her own, one from Hickel, and a block from Taylor – to expand Colusa’s lead to seven before a Pierce side-out. Pierce’s Alexis Dorantes brought the Bears right back into the game, serving four straight points of her own with a pair of aces and a kill from Callie Muniz to cut the lead to three, but Pierce never got closer than that the rest of the way.
Up 22-18 with Gracie Myers serving, Colusa closed out the game on a 3-0 run. Annie Lay set up Ayala for kills on the final two points of the set, as Colusa won 25-18.

In the game two, Colusa once again jumped ahead 14-10, before a Dorantes kill gave Pierce a side-out and the momentum. Noemi Martinez served six straight points to give the Bears the lead. Dorentes was instrumental in the run, throwing down two kills and a block, as Pierce went up 17-14 before a Colusa side-out. Colusa answered back with an 8-1 run to close out the set. Colusa scored the final two points on a kill from Taylor and an ace from Huskey, winning 25-18.

Down 5-4 early in the third game, Hickel served three aces on a 8-0 run to put Colusa up 12-5. Pierce kept the game tight, but Colusa led by at least three the rest of the way. An Ayala kill ended the game, 25-20, and secured the sweep for Colusa.

Pierce (12-5, 0-1 SVL) traveled to Willows to play the Honkers last night, and hosts Winters at 6 PM tomorrow. Colusa (29-3, 2-0 SVL) hosts Willows on Thursday.

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.