Colusa volleyball falls in opening round of CIF State Playoffs

Colfax's Grace Bliss tips the ball over the net against Colusa in the opening round of the CIF State Volleyball Championship Tournament.

Colusa High School’s volleyball team ended its season with a 3-1 loss to Colfax last Tuesday. 

In the opening round of the 2018 CIF State Girls Division IV Volleyball Championship tournament, the No. 11 seed Falcons upset the No. 6 seed RedHawks on the latter’s home court, winning by scores of 28-26, 17-25, 25-22, and 25-15.

After struggling out of the gate in game one and trailing 11-4, Colusa – helped along by the play of Carly Lay, who had a crucial block and repeatedly found holes in Colfax’s defense with tips – brought themselves back into contention. They used a late 4-0 run to take a 23-22 lead – their first of the set. Tied at 23-23 after a Colfax side out, a Hannah Taylor and Jessica Hickel block gave the RedHawks the serve in a set-point situation, but Colusa couldn’t close the game out. The teams traded points until Colfax finally took the first game 28-26. 

In game two, the RedHawks were up 6-4 before the Falcons tore off a run of seven straight points. A Hannah Taylor kill finally staunched the bleeding and gave Colusa a side out, putting Jessica Hickel at the service line. Colusa regained the lead with a 5-0 run of their own – which included kills from Gillian Ayala and Taylor. The Falcons evened the score on three occasions – the last of which tied the score at 15-15 – but never went ahead again. The RedHawks ended the second set on a 10-2 run, punctuated by an Amber Morales ace, evening the match at a game apiece. The win in game two seemed as if it would turn the tide in the match: as the teams switched sides, Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ blasted over the speakers and the RedHawks – who had until that point seemed tense – danced and sang along. The RedHawks were having fun and had recaptured the momentum, but Colfax bounced back.

Game three was tight from the opening serve to the final point, as the two sides played to a 20-20 tie. Colfax pulled in front, 23-20, before a Taylor kill earned the RedHawks a side out and brought them within two. An Ayala kill brought Colusa within two, but a serving error gave Colfax a side out and a set-point opportunity. Colfax’s Halle Neumann wrapped up the set with a kill, earning the Falcons a 25-22 win. Neither team led by more than three throughout the set.

The final game wasn’t as close: Colfax came out on fire, opening the game on a 9-1 run as Colusa struggled defensively. The Falcons held onto that lead and were up 12-4 before the RedHawks were finally able to string together a run. Colusa closed the gap to four points, but never got closer than that. Colfax led 22-14 when Keegan O’Sullivan stepped to the service line. An O’Sullivan ace and a Colusa attacking error put the Falcons up 24-14, needing just one more point to win the match . A serving error gave Colusa a side-out and kept their hopes alive, but Colfax’s Grace Bliss dashed them when she scored the match-winning kill. ■

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.