The California Pintos volleyball team season ended Oct. 24 after a two-set loss in the Class 3 District 9 semi-final to the Blair Oaks Falcons, 25-16, 25-18. The Pintos finish their season with a record of 26-6-3.
In the first set, the Pintos found themselves down early, as Blair Oaks jumped out to a 10-4 lead. The Falcons then built a 16-6 lead, as they were able to pull away en route to their 25-16 win.
In the second set, the Pintos again found themselves in a hole early, as Blair Oaks won the first three points to build a 3-0 lead. The Pintos answered with a three-point run of their own to tie the game at 3-3. But Blair Oaks then started to pull away, as they won 11 points in a row to build a double-digit lead at 14-3.
California slowly began to cut into Blair Oak's lead, as they won seven of the next nine points to get back into the game at 16-10. But again, Blair Oaks responded to California's run with a run of its own, as the Falcons won four points in a row to make it a 20-10 game.
California then made it a 20-13 game before Blair Oaks got within one point of the win, with the score at 24-14 after the Falcons won four of the next five points.
Head coach Julie Bailey said the team's fighting back showed the girls are not quitters and will fight.
"Their perseverance will help them in athletics and life," Bailey said. "So much of what happens in athletic endeavors are life lessons that will give players the skills they need to face life and its difficulties."
The team had some trouble judging where some of Blair Oaks' hits would land throughout the second set and that helped the Falcons get some extra points. Bailey said communication and feet movement were some reasons for the little mistakes.
"In the game, the girls were not communicating well or moving their feet to the ball," Bailey said.
The little mistakes did hurt the Pintos in the second game, as Blair Oaks took advantage of their errors.
"A team cannot give a great team points and expect to win," Bailey said. "We did not play at our best and Blair Oaks was able to capitalize on our mistakes."
With their season on the line, California made one final push, as they won four points in a row to make it 24-18, before Blair Oaks was able to win the final point.
Bailey praised the season overall.
"I think we had a great season, even though it may not have ended the way we wanted it to," Bailey said. "We were first in the Fulton Tournament and ended our season at 26-6-3. Very few teams are able to say they won 26 matches when it is over."
For Bailey, there were a few moments that stood out this season.
"Winning the Fulton Tournament was exciting, as was beating Rock Bridge and Smith Cotton — two schools much larger than us," Bailey said. "But, I think the most memorable moment for me was splitting with Pleasant Hill in the Warrensburg Tournament.
"Pleasant Hill is a volleyball powerhouse and we have never beaten them in a set. I was very proud of the girls that day. Even though we lost to Santa Fe in bracket play, after playing eight sets in a row, the girls never quit and played with heart, even though they were physically exhausted."
There are a couple of lessons Bailey hopes the players take away from this season.
"I hope the girls learn the same thing I want all my players to know. Hard work, dedication and drive can help you be successful on the court and in life," Bailey said. "Hopefully, all players are able to carry those skills into their future.
"As far as the game of volleyball, I hope the girls will set their goals high and are willing to fight for every point and every set to the best of their ability."