Starting Tuesday with a Senior Night outing at home against Castle Rock, Columbia High had three matches remaining in its 2007 volleyball season.
All three fall into the "must win" category for the Bruins, who fell to 3-6 and fifth in SWW 1A League Trico Division standings with a 3-0 loss Monday night at Stevenson.
The 8-1 Bulldogs, who climbed into a first-place tie with La Center with the win, dispatched the Bruins, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16, in the make-up of a match originally scheduled for Sept. 20. (Stevenson also won the jayvee match, 20-25, 25-22, 19-17.)
Bruins Coach Kevin Liddiard said Columbia "didn't look as sharp as we did" when it hosted Stevenson on Oct. 16.
"Maybe it was because it was Monday--not usually a game day for us--maybe it was the festivities of homecoming last week," he said. "Whatever the reason, we're going to have to play much better than we did the rest of the way to have a chance at that last playoff spot."
Entering the week, Columbia trailed fourth-place Kalama by one game in the contest for the Trico Division's last SW District tournament berth.
The Bruins will have the harder road to travel as they close out regular-season play with trips to Rochester tonight and Kalama next Monday. Kalama finishes with Ilwaco there and La Center and White Salmon at home.
Stevenson, La Center and Castle Rock have already locked up spots in the district playoffs, which start next Wednesday in La Center and Montesano, and conclude next Saturday in La Center.
At Columbia 3, Trout Lake/Glenwood 0:
The Bruins earned a sweep of their season series with TLG, winning the Oct. 17 non-league match by scores of 25-18, 25-13, 25-13.
Noted Liddiard: "We played well and got it done in three."
Liddiard used the non-league contest like a practice, playing players in different positions as an experiment "to see what they could do, which will help us in this final stretch."
Liddiard singled out seniors Ilima Caldwell and Chrissy Duniphin and sophomore Carah Concienne for their standout play against TLG.
In junior varsity action, Columbia prevailed, 25-18, 25-14, 15-4.
Stevenson 3, at Columbia 0:
The Bruins pushed the Bulldogs in every set Oct. 16, losing 25-20, 25-23, 25-22.
"We competed well against one of the top-10 teams in the state," Liddiard noted. "Although we lost in three, we hung right in there with them."
Lapses in the middle of each set, "where we lost some of our synchronicity," held the Bruins back, Liddiard said, "but I was proud to see them rally and come together and put on runs at the end of every game."
The last rally of the night, he added, featured strong defensive efforts by Carah Concienne, Chrissy Duniphin, Maree Jo Kettenring, Ilima Caldwell, Katherine Mosbrucker and Robin Swanhuyser.
"(The girls) dug some amazing hits to try to keep the rally alive," Liddiard said, adding, "If we can keep it together, we'll do well at the end of the season."