A packed Colusa High School gymnasium last Thursday night was an all out show for attendees. After an easy first round win against Skyline on Nov. 12, in a 3-0 set win, Colusa Lady RedHawks hosted the Bentley Phoenix in the second round of the 2019 State Girls Volleyball Championship, Division V.
“This was money well spent,” said spectator Gaby Lopez, from Williams.
The No. 3 seed Colusa dialed up big plays both offensively and defensively to pull out a 3-2 set win over the No. 11 seed Bentley.
“Oh my goodness!” said Kelley Hickel. “What an exciting evening of volleyball.”
A game of earned point by point is exactly what fans watched in the first set of game play. Both teams nabbed one to two point leads early on in the match, with several rallies between the teams.
Carly Lay and Reese Roper stuffed Bentley’s defense numerous times to push the RedHawks to a first set victory, 25-22.
Colusa found themselves in a score deficit early on in the second, somewhere this team has never been during the last couple weeks of playoffs.
Bentley’s outside hitter, Lillia Hammond, and middle blocker, Thalia Hundt, were defensive dynamos with six blocks each. But the RedHawks didn’t make any points easy for Bentley as duo Annie Lay and Hannah Taylor poured on the heat against the Phoenix offense. With a 25-24 Colusa lead, a hit by Bentley’s Hammond was called out of bounds and a second set celebration ensued. However, a last minute net call against Colusa was a Bentley side-out that left a tied score, 25 all.
Bentleys defense proved to be too much for the RedHawks and Colusa suffered their first set loss in weeks, 29-27.
Colusa dove right into the third set in a 12-point mid match avalanche to turn the score deficit near irrecoverable for Bentley. Annie Lay, Roper, and Carly Lay wreaked havoc on Bentley’s offense, aiding the LadyHawks to a large 25-15 third set win. Much like the third set, the fourth set was identical but with Bentley coming out on top in a 25-14 win.
Down to the wire and eager to advance to the next round of state playoffs, both teams continued their dominance on defense. Amber Morales utilized both volleyball digs and soccer footage for an outstanding display of backrow defense, aiding to a Lady Hawk victory, 15-11.
“I am truly pleased with the dedication and commitment of the Lady RedHawks,” said Head Coach Tina Lyons. “I’m very proud of them.”
The win sent Colusa on a long trek to San Mateo for round three of the Norcal CIF State Volleyball Tournament, against the Nueva School, but lost 25-8.
In total silence, Nueva aced for the first point of the set, but senior Annie Lay was determined to clinch the win, sending four untouched tips over to Nueva.
Nueva struggled with Carly Lay at the net but clawed their way back to contention with a 20-15 lead over the LadyHawks. Colusa was quick to close the gap with a 20 all score after a big hit by Lay for a side out, but the team just came up shy with a 27-25 set loss.
“After the first set, we knew we needed to play smart and work on our placement,” said Kaylie Gwinnup. “ We needed to hit more down the line, serve to where we needed to serve, and find the holes on the court.”
Gwinnup did just that in the second set, adding four points from the service line, two kills and a solo block to keep the score deficit minimal. Nueva’s outside hitter, Willow Taylor, broke several Colusa blocks, edging the RedHawks to a 25-23 win.
One last shot to keep their winning streak alive, Colusa gave it their all in the final set of the evening. Several game delays seemed to zap the LadyHawks’ energy, as several 30-to-60-second game delays were called for noise distractions during serving by athletes.
Colusa kept a tight score mid match, with key kills by Roper and blocks by Hannah Taylor, but the score deficit grew too wide and the LadyHawks long journey ended in the third set with a 25-17 loss.
“To my players, thank you for all that you have done to make this such a successful season,” said Lyons. “To the community: We could have not have done this without you! Your support is unmatched.”
Colusa ends their season with a 30-16 overall record, a Section Championship, third in Northern Section and fifth overall. This year’s history-making RedHawks squad will lose five starters going into next season.
“This season was full of all kinds of unexpected things,” said senior Amber Morales. “ Every obstacle made each one of us a better player and overall, a stronger team. I couldn’t have asked for a better season to end my high school volleyball career.” ■