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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos volleyball team fell Oct. 13 to Fatima in five sets in a tough game.

The California Pintos volleyball team (16-6) lost a close game Oct. 13 to the Fatima Comets (14-12-4) in five sets, 3-2.

Head coach Julie Bailey said she told the team the loss can help them get better.

“I told the girls we played a tough fought match against a good team, and it helped us to get better,” Bailey said.

California won the first set 25-22 but lost the second set 27-25. In the second set, the two teams kept it close, as Fatima led 7-5 early on. The teams traded points, and with the score tied at 9-9, California won four points in a row to make it a 13-9 game. Fatima responded by winning nine points in a row to take an 18-13 lead, but the Pintos answered right back by winning seven of the next 10 points to make it a 21-20 game.

California then tied it at 21 before retaking the lead at 22-21. The set was tied again at 23 before Fatima took a 24-23 lead. Lauren Friedrich got a kill on the next point to tie it once again at 24. With the Pintos down 25-24, a kill by Kaitlyn Stauffer tied it once more at 25, but Fatima won the next two points to take the set.

In the next set, the Pintos eventually found themselves down eight points at 16-8, but they were able to come back once again to tie the game at 18 after winning 10 of the next 12 points. California then took a small two-point lead before the game was tied at 20. The game ended up being tied six separate times in the final stages of the set as the teams traded points. With the score tied at 25-25, Emma Whitson got a kill to make it a 26-25 game, but Fatima tied it again in the next point. Then, the Comets led 27-26, but California kept the set alive by tying it at 27. A block by Ella Lewis gave California at 28-27 lead and the Comets gifted the Pintos another point after hitting the ball into the net, as California won the set 29-27.

Bailey said she was proud of the team’s effort as it mounted comebacks throughout the game.

“I was proud of the effort put forth to pull ahead when we were down and hope in the future to see the same effort to stay ahead in order to get a win,” Bailey said. “I was proud of the girls for fighting to get ahead.”

In the fourth set, the game continued to be a tight contest as California came back from an 8-4 deficit to get to within two points at 11-9. California stayed in close range and cut the lead down to one point on three separate occasions at 15-14, 16-15 and 17-16. The Pintos ended up tying the game at 17, but Fatima went on a 6-o run to make it 23-17. The Comets held on to win the set 25-19.

In the final 15-point set, California was up early with a 4-1 lead, but Fatima came back to tie the game at 5-5. The Pintos led by as many as three points in the late stages of the set at 8-5 and 10-7 but could not pull away from the Comets. Fatima won the final set and the game by winning eight of the next nine points to win the set 15-11.

Bailey said she hopes the team can learn to stay focused on close games after the loss.

“I hope we learn to stay focused and to be driven to win the close ones,” Bailey said. “In the end, we seemed to lose our focus and made some mistake we hadn’t made in the rest of the match.”

With the lead switching between the two teams during the whole game, Bailey said in a game like that, the team has to focus on the little things.

“We had to keep focusing on doing the little things right and had to play with the mindset that every point counts,” Bailey said.

The Pintos’ next game is at 5 p.m. Oct. 22 at Marshall (9-7-1).

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