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story.lead_photo.caption Paige Lamm goes up for the ball during the volleyball team's win over Smith-Cotton on Oct. 21, 2019. Photo by Kevin Labotka / California Democrat.

The California Pintos volleyball team celebrated its senior night with a two-set win over the Smith-Cotton Tigers on Oct. 21.

The team improved to 23-6-3 on the year with the win. The Pintos won the first set 25-20 and won the second set 25-14.

Head coach Julie Bailey said the team finished the game with a lot more energy than it had from the start.

"I felt like the seniors came focused and knew what they wanted to do and brought the whole team with them," Bailey said. "Our freshmen even came out and played as outstanding as any freshmen I have seen. I could not be prouder of the group of girls and what they did tonight and hopefully what they will continue on from this point forward."

In the first set, the two teams traded points early. California got its first lead of the game after taking a 4-3 lead. The Pintos then won the next three points in a row to make it 6-3, but Smith-Cotton answered with a three-point winning streak of its own to tie the game at 6-6. The Pintos soon found themselves down 10-8 but answered by winning two points in a row to tie the game at 10-10. The two teams continued to alternate the lead. With Smith-Cotton in the lead at 14-13, the Tigers began to gain some breathing room as they won four of the next five points to make it an 18-14 game.

The Pintos called a time out and after coming back from the break, the team won four points in a row to tie it at 18-18. The Pintos then tied the game at 19-19 before taking a 20-19 lead. California ended the set by winning five of the next six points.

Normally, the Pintos seem to be in more control of the first set rather than the second set. But in this game, the opposite held true, as California was in control of the second set longer than the team was in the first set.

Hailey Cain, wearing a brace on her left leg, served the first two points of the set before exiting with the set tied at 1-1. Bailey said Cain's serving meant a lot to the team.

"I think we got kind of up when Cain came out to serve for us. I think that got the girls behind her and wanted to get a win for her since her season is over, and this is her last game as a Pinto on the court," Bailey said. "I think that meant a lot to them."

The Pintos trailed 4-2 early but came back strong as the team won seven of the next nine points to gain a 9-6 lead. After Smith-Cotton made it 9-7, California won a long rally to make it a 10-7 game. The team added to its lead, including winning another long rally to make it a 15-9 game. After that point, the Pintos began to pull away from Smith-Cotton, as the team won four of the next six points to make it a 19-12 game. The Pintos ended the set by winning six of the next eight points to pick up the win.

Bailey said winning those long rallies gets the team pumped up.

"Our back row played outstanding tonight," Bailey said. "The Versailles tournament helped us out a lot. We played a lot of volleyball this weekend, and I think that really helped us come out fired up tonight."

The team's next game will be at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 in the semifinal round of the Class 3 District 10 Tournament at California. The Pintos will face the winner of the first round game of Southern Boone (23-7-3) and Capital City (0-15-2).

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