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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Evan HolmesEmma Whitson's family and friends help her celebrate her 1,000th career assist before last Tuesday night's match.

After going 2-2 at their tournament in Warrensburg last Saturday, the Lady Pintos returned home last Tuesday for another Tri-County Conference showdown.

This time, they would play host to the Versailles Lady Tigers. When the dust settled, the result was a 3-0 (26-24, 25-9, 25-6) sweep for the Lady Pintos.

But before the game, the Lady Pintos first needed to take a moment of recognition for one of their own. At the Warrensburg tournament on Saturday, Emma Whitson had recorded her 1,000th career assist in only her junior season.

"It's amazing. I mean, being able to hit with teammates that supported me and coaches who supported me, I mean, it's amazing to me that I did it," Whitson said of her achievement.

Whitson was unaware that she was on the verge of catching such a milestone. Lady Pintos head coach Julie Bailey was as well, until the Lady Pintos junior's club coach contacted her mother and told her that Emma was getting close to 1,000. After Bailey did the math, she realized that the club coach was right. Whitson needed only seven assists against Pleasant Hill at the Warrensburg Tournament to eclipse the 1,000 mark, which she did.

After the ceremony for Whitson's milestone was complete, the match with Versailles got underway. When the Lady Pintos took an 18-8 lead in the opening set, it seemed like California was in complete control. That is until, as if repeating the script from their loss against Hickman, the Lady Pintos wilted and Versailles clawed their way back into the match. Within minutes, the 18-8 lead had turned into a 24-23 deficit, sure to have brought about a nightmarish feeling of deja vu for the Lady Pintos. Fortunately for the Lady Pintos, they would turn it back around to take the next three points and win the set 26-24.

From that point on, California had learned their lesson and wouldn't give the Versailles Lady Tigers any second chances. The Lady Pintos dominated the next two sets 25-9 and 25-6 to complete the perfect sweep.

Bailey said the early hiccup was due to a lapse in aggression in the Lady Pintos' hitting.

"I don't know why we stopped hitting. I asked them why we stopped hitting. And they didn't really finish the first set hitting," Bailey said. "But they came out in the second set attacking and continued that through the third set."

The first set has been the Achilles heel for the Lady Pintos multiple times this season. But last Tuesday night, California again found a way to hit their stride as the night wore on.

"Our passing got a lot better. Our defense got a lot better and we started hitting the ball," Bailey said. "I told them in one of our huddles that they didn't seem to be tracking the ball. They've got to track the ball so they know where it's going. I don't know if that made a difference. But it allowed our setters to give our hitters the ball."

After their win against Versailles, California hit a speed bump when they were defeated by Helias Catholic Thursday 3-1 (19-25, 28-26, 23-25, 13-25).

The Lady Pintos' record as of press time Tuesday sits at 16-5-1. They traveled to Fatima last night, will host Osage Thursday, and will take part in an invitational at Versailles Saturday.

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