The California Pintos volleyball team won the Class 3 District 10 Championship on Oct. 30.
The Pintos defeated the Southern Boone Eagles in two sets, 25-20 and 25-18, in the semifinal round and the Pintos defeated the Blair Oaks Falcons in two sets, 25-22 and 25-23, in the championship game.
The third time was the charm for California, as the Pintos had faced Blair Oaks two times earlier in the season. The Pintos were 0-2 in their previous matches against Blair Oaks, as California lost to them in two sets on Sept. 19 and in three sets at the Versailles tournament Oct. 19.
Head coach Julie Bailey said beating Blair Oaks accomplishes one of the team’s goals they had before the start of the season, and the district championship victory shows the drive the girls have.
“We have truly improved game after game,” Bailey said. “That showed tonight in their play.”’
Both sets in the championship game were tight, as the two teams were neck and neck throughout the match. In the first set, the two teams traded scores and found themselves deadlocked in three ties before either team had scored five points. With California holding a slim 5-4 lead, Ella Lewis got a kill that made it a 6-4 game. A block by the Pintos made it 7-4 and, after another point, the Pintos had their largest lead at the time with four points at 8-4. Blair Oaks would get within one point multiple times during the middle stages of the set at 11-10, 12-11, and 13-12. However, each time it looked like the Falcons might once again tie the game, the Pintos would win the next point to get their lead back up to two points.
California held a slim 14-12 lead when a kill by Paige Lamm made it 15-12. California then won the next two points, punctuated with another kill by Lamm to make it 17-12, which led to a time out being called by the Falcons. After the timeout, California kept it going, making it 19-12 before a block by Lauren Friedrich improved the score to 20-12. Blair Oaks did not go down quietly as the team slowly began to crawl back into the game. The Falcons won four of the next five points to make it 21-16. The Falcons then proceeded to get within three points at 22-19, but the Pintos held them off, winning three of the final five points to win the set. The final point ended with a kill by Makayla Schanzmeyer.
In the second set, California quickly rushed to a 4-1 lead, but Blair Oaks fought back to eventually tie the set at 5-5. The teams traded points until the game was tied at 8-8. The trading of points continued and the set was soon tied yet again at 12-12. A kill by Friedrich gave California a 13-12 lead, which grew to 15-12 shortly after. But again, Blair Oaks responded, this time with a run of their own to tie the game at 15-15 before eventually taking a 16-15 lead. It was the first time the Pintos had trailed in the set since the very beginning, when the Falcons led 1-0. The Pintos did not trail long, however, as they tied it at 16-16 on the next point. California then won the next two points to take a 18-16 lead but, once again, Blair Oaks worked to tied the game at 19-19. A missed serve by Blair Oaks gave California a 20-19 lead, but the Pintos lost the next two points to find themselves trailing 21-20. After a timeout by California, the Pintos tied it again at 21-21 but again fell behind and trailed 22-21. The teams traded points until the set was tied at 23-23, where California then took a 24-23 lead. The Pintos ended the match after Blair Oaks was unable to return the serve over the net after their third hit near the Falcons bench. The gym then roared in applause as the Pintos celebrated the win.
The first time the Pintos played Blair Oaks, California lost a tight game 25-23 and 25-20. A difference for the Pintos was their ability to block the Falcons’ Mariah Radmacher, Bailey said.
“The first time we played Blair Oaks we were really close with them and Mariah Radmacher had our number,” Bailey said. “Tonight, we were able to block her, and we were able to get her hits up and that helped us tremendously to stay in the game.”
In the semifinal round game against Southern Boone, both sets were close as in the first set, California jumped out to a 4-1 lead but Southern Boone rallied to close the gap and make it a 5-3 game. California then won six of the next seven points to take a 11-4 lead. Southern Boone slowly climbed back into striking distance as they would make it a 15-11 game. The Eagles would only get as close as within three points in the first set as they made it a 17-14 game, but California again responded, this time with a three-point winning streak to make it 20-14. The teams traded points for most of the last part of the set, and California finished the set by winning three of the last five points.
The second set stayed close throughout the early parts of the set. California held a slim 8-7 lead before getting some breathing room and making it a 10-7 game. The Eagles responded with a three-point scoring streak to make it 10-10. The game was soon tied at 11-11 when Ella Lewis had a kill to give California a 12-11 lead. The two teams traded points until the game was tied at 14-14. Southern Boone took a one-point lead at 15-14, but California quickly tied it again at 15-15 before taking 16-15 lead. Things were tied up once more at 16-16, but California got out ahead thanks to a three-point scoring streak to make it 19-16. Southern Boone made it a two-point game at 19-17 and later at 20-18, but Lewis had another kill that made it 21-18 and provided enough momentum for the Pintos to win the next four points in a row to secure the semifinal victory.
With the district championship win, Bailey said she wants to the team to take away the fact they are capable of doing anything when they work together as a team.