Going into the final two weeks of the 2001 regular season, Columbia High finds itself in contention for a spot in the SW Washington 2A District Tournament.
The Bruins (1-8 in the Trico League, 3-9 overall) stood half a game ahead of Castle Rock (1-9) in the standings at the end of last week and headed into Tuesday's final regular season away match at La Center.
White Salmon finishes up its 12-match league slate with home matches on Oct. 23 versus league-leading Woodland and Oct. 25 against Castle Rock.
Assuming nothing changes between now and then, the Bruins and the Rockets will meet to decide who wins the season series and, most important, goes to district as the Trico League's fourth seed.
"It's exciting to be in this position, to have something to play for," Bruins Coach Amy Kasenga said Monday. "We're expecting a real battle when Castle Rock comes here next week, because both teams want it."
Columbia High hasn't had a volleyball team play for a district berth since 1997. (CHS lost a winner-to-district playoff to Toledo that year.)
The 2001 Bruins put themselves in the running for a a place in the eight-team district field by sweeping the Rockets 3-0 on Oct. 9, in Castle Rock.
It was their first Trico victory of the season and only their fifth league win in the last three years. (CHS finished sixth, at 2-10, in 1999 and 2000.)
Columbia took a hotly contested first set 17-15. It won the second 15-7, then held on to edge Castle Rock 15-13 in the third.
Kasenga attributed the final outcome to a more consistent effort and performance on offense and defense.
"We got some good attacks going on offense, and our defense came up with some big saves," she noted. "And that's because we were relaxed and went out and had fun. We made that our mission."
Junior Kristin Janney led the Bruins' offensive attack with seven kills and nine tips.
Junior Mallory Holtman targeted four kills and junior Jessica Kinder put down three. Junior Crystal Blankenship had seven tips.
The Bruins posted an attack percentage of 83 percent, completing 82 of 99 kill attempts.
From the service line they hit on 80 of 88 serves, or 91 percent. Kinder put 27 of 30 serves in play and had two aces. Junior Lisa Graves went 10 for 10 with one ace.
In the passing department, junior Kelsey Owen was a perfect 36 for 36. The team average, however, was just 72 percent.
Defensively, the Bruins' front-row blockade recorded 18 blocks in 19 tries, led by Janney's eight and Holtman's six.
Kasenga said CHS' 95 percent success rate was due to the Bruins' improved ability to read and anticipate the opposing team's attack patterns.
"We're continuing to play well defensively. We didn't see much offense from Castle Rock, but what we did see we were able to handle."
At Ridgefield 3, Columbia 1 --
On Oct. 11, the Bruins lost to the Spudders in four sets for the third time.
Columbia came out firing in the first set and won 15-8.
But that was as good as it got as Ridgefield took the next three sets, 15-5, 16-14, 15-6.
"We weren't able to maintain any consistency after the first game," Bruins Coach Amy Kasenga said.
The Bruins held a 9-5 lead in the third set but a breakdown in serving accuracy let the Spudders back into it.
Ridgefield eventually tied the score, then it was back and forth the rest of the way, with neither team able to put together a long run.
"Because of our inconsistent serving, we couldn't finish them off (in game three)," Kasenga noted.
The Bruins' final serving percentage was 87 percent (78 of 90), which was a drop-off of four points from their previous match.
Mallory Holtman missed two of 12 serves, but scored three aces. Kristin Janney had two aces, and Jessica Kinder had one.
In their attack mode, the Bruins had one of their better nights. They connected on 104 of 112 kill attempts (93 percent) and recorded 20 kills.
Janney (28-29) had nine of those kills, while Holtman and Kinder each found the floor five times. Junior Crystal Blankenship got the other kill.
Sophomore Shelly Putnam and Janney led Bruins blockers with 10 and nine blocks respectively. Holtman and Kinder had four denials apiece.