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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/ Evan HolmesRylee Hees (left), Macie Trimble (center) and Isabella Kincaid (right) prepare for a serve from Marshall.

California High School volleyball returned to action last Tuesday night after a five day layoff to take on the Smith-Cotton Lady Tigers. It was a tale of two records as the Lady Pintos entered the match with a record of 4-0, while the Lady Tigers came to California 0-4 and looking for their first win of the season.

The match yielded no surprises as the Lady Pintos protected their home court and defeated Smith-Cotton in straight sets; the set scores were 25-9, 25-20 and 25-7.

It wasn't a pretty win for California, as they didn't play their style of volleyball and ran into trouble in the second set. In that second set, Smith-Cotton took it to the wire and nearly tied the match until the Lady Pintos were able to pull away for the last few points in the set.

Head coach Julie Bailey acknowledged her team's lack of aggression during the matchup and said she knows the Lady Pintos have to play like they did in their previous matchup against Boonville if they want to be a force to be reckoned with.

"We weren't getting the passing that we had been having. Our setting was a little off and our hits didn't have the same power as we normally have," Bailey said. "We kind of seemed a little lethargic."

California High School began its 2021-22 school year the same day, and Bailey suspected that perhaps the sluggishness in her team's performance might stem from the first day of the school year and the changes that came with it.

"I don't know if it was because it was the first day of school and everyone was dragging a little bit and low on energy," Bailey explained. "They had their own schedule before and now we're back at school. So hopefully, they get over that first day of school and low energy and we come back on Thursday ready to play."

Coach Bailey said the first and third set were the times where California played their best volleyball of the matchup. The second set was a different story.

"I felt like in the first and third set, we did okay. It was the second that was our problem," Bailey said. "We tend to do that as a team, where we have a strong win and then we get back on our heels. We let the opponent in the game when we shouldn't, instead of just staying strong from the beginning."

Last Thursday, the Lady Pintos went on the road to Eldon to take on the Lady Mustangs. Both teams were undefeated entering the match. In the end, it was the Lady Pintos that remained undefeated. California defeated Eldon in straight sets; the set scores were 25-20, 25-14 and 25-22.

The Lady Pintos have a very busy schedule during the next few weeks. The journey begins Thursday night, when California goes on the road to take on conference rival Blair Oaks.

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