Three victories in its last four matches have turned the Columbia High varsity volleyball team’s 2013 season around.
The Bruins improved to 3-4 in Trico League standings last Thursday with a straight-sets victory at Castle Rock. They will look to keep their new-found level of success going this week with home matches against winless Ilwaco and unbeaten Kalama. (The result of Tuesday’s match against Ilwaco was too late for inclusion in this week’s edition.)
Columbia started its current streak of good play at home on Sept. 24 against Stevenson. The Bruins defeated the Bulldogs in four sets: they split the first two sets, but CHS prevailed in the third and fourth sets to claim its first Trico victory of the season. Set scores were 25-21, 14-25, 25-18, 25-22.
“It was a solid team effort from everyone to get our first league win,” Bruins Coach Heidi Shultz said.
Corrie Brending led the CHS attack with nine kills. Tiffany McCoy “had a good night on the outside,” Shultz noted, as she finished with seven kills. Hannah Sauter and Kayla McClain each supplied four kills, and Kirstin Hylton recorded three.
The Bruins also scored with the serve. Mariah Raw-ding went 18 for 18 from the service line and delivered five aces. Kyle Fadness served four aces.
Defensively, Fadness stood out “with some great serve receive passing” and nine digs that kept points alive, Shultz said. Alyssa Trout led the defense with 15 digs.
On Sept. 26, the Bruins made the nearly 3-hour bus trip to Toledo and came away with the road win. They swept the Indians, winning by scores of 25-13, 25-14, 25-10, much to Shultz’ delight. (The CHS junior varsity also won in straight sets.)
Shultz said the Bruins controlled the action defensively and limited the Indians’ scoring opportunities. Offensiv-ely, she noted, the Bruins “really served well and passed well, which set up our hitters.”
Rawding delivered six aces on 12-of-12 serving, and Fadness was 19 for 20 with two aces. (Fadness also had 16 digs to key the Bruins’ defensive effort.)
McClain led CHS hitters in kills with seven. Brending totaled five, Hylton and Rawding each scored three, and Makayla Enyart, Sauter, and McCoy tallied two apiece.
“I was proud of the way we came to play in Toledo,” Shultz said. “It’s a long trip but they stepped on the court with focus and purpose.”
Woodland visited White Salmon on Oct. 1 for its only regular-season meeting with the Bruins. The Beavers dominated the court in Miller Gym and prevailed in three sets by scores of 25-6, 25-15, 25-9.
“We were beaten pretty soundly,” Shultz noted. “They are a tall, experienced team. They play a very fast game that had our blockers running all over the net. Our defense got a lot of digs but we ended up passing a lot of balls over the net, which allowed them to run plays and set it up for the kill.”
Standouts for Columbia were Rawding with two aces on 10-for-10 serving, Fadness with 18 digs, and Hylton and Enyart with two kills apiece.
Two days later the Bruins got over their hiccups and returned to the form that resulted in their victories over Stevenson and Toledo. On Castle Rock’s LeBaron Court, CHS delivered a straight-sets victory in its one-off meeting with the Rockets, by scores of 25-21, 25-22, 27-25.
“I was proud of the girls’ efforts,” Shultz said. “Since I’ve been coaching we have never beaten Castle Rock, so the girls showed a lot of heart and determination to get the job done on [the Rockets’] home court.”
After taking a two-set lead, the Bruins had to fight for every point in the third set to close out the Rockets.
“The third game we were down the whole game; at one point it was 8-14,” Shultz noted.
Columbia rallied, though, and pulled within 23-21 on a serve by Trout. A side out gave Castle Rock a 24-21 edge, but Columbia scored a kill to make it a two-point game with Hylton moving to the service line.
The Bruins managed to score two points off Hylton’s serve with a couple of long, point-winning rallies. An-other sideout gave gave the Rockets another chance to extend the match.
But Columbia instead extended the third set thanks to a clutch defensive play by McClain and a kill by Sauter that evened the score at 25-25.
Jasmine Montero entered the game to serve and Brending tallied a kill off her first attempt to put CHS on top, 26-25.
“Jasmine then served a tough serve on the last point that they could not return for the win,” Shultz said, and added, “It was an exciting win for the girls, and they showed a lot of determination coming back from such a big deficit.”
Columbia featured a strong attack against Castle Rock and scored a season-high 36 kills. Brending led the way with 11 kills, Sauter scored six, McClain and Enyart had five each, Hylton totaled four, McCoy tallied three, and Rawding finished with two.
Fadness anchored an active defense for CHS and provided a team-best 16 digs “and her usual stellar serve receive passing,” Shultz said. Trout and McClain both had nine digs.
“Our defense is really working hard, and now our offense is showing signs of progress too,” Shultz said of Columbia’s improvement after losing its first three Trico matches.
Coming up: Tonight’s home match against the Kalama Chinooks begins at 7. The varsity match will be preceded at 5:45 by a junior varsity match. On Saturday the Bruins will be in action at a tournament in Hood River. Next week, CHS hosts La Center on Oct. 15 and travels to Vancouver to take on King’s Way on Oct. 17.