Columbia High's varsity volleyball team got out the brooms last Thursday night for its non-league match with Portland Adventist Academy.
The Bruins swept the Cougars in three straight, winning by scores of 15-7, 15-6 and 16-14. The victory leveled CHS' season record at 1-1.
"The sweep was nice," Bruins Coach Amy Kasenga said, "It's a firstever for these girls."
Columbia's shutout began with the 15-7 decision in the opening set. The Bruins broke away from a 7-7 tie, scoring the final eight points.
In the second set, Columbia racked up the first 11 points before settling for a 15-6 win that gave it a 2-0 lead.
The shutout almost got away from the Bruins in the third set, though, as the Cougars started to play better defense and generate more offense from its outside and middle hitters.
After a shaky start, however, the Bruins regrouped and rallied to get within 12-11. But after an exchange of points, Portland Adventist forced a sideout and served for victory with a 14-12 lead.
Columbia returned that serve and regained possession. Portland Adventist never got the ball back as CHS served out the match.
"It almost got away from us in that third game," said Kasenga, referring to the sweep.
"We're still working on our consistency, maintaining our focus and intensity level, and not letting teams back into the match when we've got them down," she noted.
But, Kasenga added, that's part of the learning curve for a team that's still learning how to play together.
On the night, the Bruins put 64 of 74 serves (86.4 percent) in play; two of those were aces by junior Mallory Holtman and sophomore Shelly Putnam.
Putnam wasn't perfect from the line, but she was close, hitting on 22 of 23. Junior Lisa Graves served up 12 of 13, and junior Crystal Blankenship went 9 for 10.
Holtman sparked the offense with three kills, and had two blocks and a team-best three digs on defense. Junior Kristin Janney also had two blocks, to go with two kills.
Blankenship notched two more kills for the Bruins, and juniors Jessica Kinder and Kelsey Owen each registered one.
The Junior Bruins won the opening set of their match, 15-6, but fell in games two and three, 15-13 and 15-12.
In game one, CHS dominated from the service line.
Freshman Michelle Litscher opened the set with an ace, her first of two on the night. Freshman Corrine Blankenship (13-13, 2 aces for the match) closed out the win.
The Junior Bruins (0-2 overall) fell behind early in the second set and trailed 13-8 before launching a comeback that culminated in a 13-all tie.
CHS had to rally in the third set as well, cutting a 12-7 deficit to 12-11, but to no avail.