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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe Pintos’ volleyball team season ended Oct. 27 in a loss to Osage at districts.

OSAGE — The California Pintos volleyball team's season ended Oct. 27 in the semifinals of the Class 3 District 9 Tournament after losing in three sets to the Osage Indians, 25-23, 33-31 and 25-22. The team ends the season with a record of 24-7-1.

All three sets were extremely close. Midway through the first set, the Pintos trailed 15-13. Osage extended its lead to 18-14, but the Pintos won three of the next four points to get it back to within two points at 19-17. Near the end of the set, Osage led 22-17, but California battled back again and won five points in a row to tie the set at 22. Osage retook the lead at 23-22 and had set point at 24-22, but California kept the set alive making it 24-23. Despite the effort, Osage went on to win the next point to take the first set.

The second set was very intense, as it went back and forth between the two teams. Osage led 4-3 early on, but alternating points ended with the Pintos hitting the ball into the net, making it a 6-3 set early. Ella Lewis and Lauren Friedrich responded and got back-to-back kills, making it a one-point game at 6-5. California made it a one-point game again later on at 10-9, but Osage went on an 11-5 run to make the score 21-14. The Pintos cut into the lead a little bit as they made the score 23-18. With Emma Whitson serving for the Pintos, California won the next four points to make it 23-22. On the next point, Kaitlyn Stauffer won the point for the Pintos to tie it at 23-23. Osage retook the lead at 24-23, but a kill by Lewis tied it up again at 24-24. California then took a 25-24 lead, but Osage tied it again on the next point. The Indians led 26-25 and 27-26, but both times, the Pintos kept the set alive. Then, California took the lead at 28-27 and 29-28, but Osage kept the set alive both times as well. With Osage leading 31-30, a missed served tied it at 31, but the Pintos missed a serve of their own on the next point to give Osage a 32-31 lead. During the next point, a hit by the Pintos went out of bounds to end the set.

Losing the second set like that was hard for the team, head coach Julie Bailey said.

"If it is the first set you lose like that, it probably gives you drive and motivation to go ahead and win," Bailey said. "But if it is the second set, we lost knowing that we had to win the next three sets in a row, that made it much harder. I felt that at some points, we lost some energy and enthusiasm and that may have been from what happened in the second set."

In the final set, both teams exchanged points for most of the early parts of the set as neither team was able to get any breathing room. California led by two points a couple of times at 2-0, 7-5 and 11-9 but could not get the lead to grow more than that. The Indians tied the game at 11 before taking a 12-11 lead. Osage led by four points a couple of times at 16-12 and 17-13, but California cut the lead in half after a kill by Isabella Kincaid made it 17-15. Osage led 20-15, but later, California cut the lead back down to two points at 22-20 and later at 24-22. Despite the effort to extend the match to another set, Osage was able to get the ball past California's defense on the last point to win the set and game.

It was a hard loss for a young Pintos team. However, Bailey said the players do not having anything to hang their heads about.

"We had to be resilient all year and had one difficulty after another and kept fighting," Bailey said."They don't have anything to hang their heads about — we had a great season and did a lot of great things. We are a young team, and Osage has a lot of experience, a well-coached team, and they were just better than us tonight. We played them earlier in the season and beat them by three sets, so tonight it was their turn. Our girls should be proud of what they accomplished this season. We had 24 wins and very few teams get to end their season with a win."

With the Pintos team being a younger team with only two seniors and three juniors on the roster this year, Bailey said the returning players can learn from this loss.

"In the first two sets, we gave them too many points at the start of the game and then we had to work really hard to get back in the game," Bailey said. "We kind of have a habit of doing that this season and maybe that comes with young players, inexperienced players. So we have to overcome that next year. We started off a little bit stronger in the third set, but Osage was very scrappy tonight and they are always very scrappy and they just got us tonight. We can't give teams that many points, and even towards the end of the third set we made mistakes we normally don't make that gave them easy points."

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