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Bears down RedHawks in nail-biter
Heading into the deciding fifth game against Colusa High on Tuesday, the Pierce volleyball team drew upon a game that coach Kim Travis has them play in practice.
Tied two games apiece after the RedHawks soared back from the brink of defeat, the Bears went into Wash-mode to claim the tie-breaking fifth and final game.
Wash - a game the team plays in practice, is all about scrappy play. The goal of the game is to keep the ball from touching the floor, and the score resets if the team doesn't get at least a pop-up or make a good effort to get to the ball.
"I told them you have one game of Wash to 15 and you can do it, and that's what they were telling each other in the timeout," Travis said.
As the pressure built in that fifth and final game, the Bears' defense tightened up and shots the RedHawks were able to make earlier in the match stopped falling for points as Pierce claimed the final game, winning another tight contest, 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-10.
Just one week earlier, the RedHawks won the first two games of the match before Pierce rallied back to win the next three and steal the victory.
After the Bears won the first two games, it looked like it was the RedHawks turn to pull off the shocker by rallying back from two games down. Colusa had the momentum, home-court advantage and a large, loud rooting section of football players who filed in after practice.
"The last game we played against them at home was really close and we pulled through, we knew that we had to keep our head in the game no matter all the boys yelling over there," Pierce senior setter Madison Leighty said.
Leighty was the team's defensive most-valuable player while waiting in the wings to take over at setter behind Alison Ornbaun, who graduated in the spring.
The Bears struggled with their serves and had a hard time with the RedHawks' strong serving late in the match, but the strong play at the middle of the net by juniors Natalie Corona and Mariah Diaz helped the Bears overcome their struggles, Leighty said.
Colusa senior Emily Mobley caught fire late in the game and the Bears did everything they could to slow her down, even using insider information gained from earlier this year when Mobley played with many of the Pierce players on a club team coached by Travis.
"Even playing with her for four months, she can still beat us. I tell them she's going to go across her body here and she still gets it, she's a great player," Travis said.
Well after the match was over, as Travis gave her final instructions to the Bears for the night before heading home, Mobley walked by and joined the Bears for their final break of the night.
"Kudos to Emily, she played club with us this year, she is a great person and it's fun to play against her. She's really improved, she did a great job for us over the summer and she hurt us a couple times tonight," Travis said.
The battle between Mobley and Pierce's Diaz and Corona was intense all night. Corona finished with 17 kills and eight blocks, Diaz added 11 kills and two blocks for the Bears. Mobley made 12 kills and two blocks for the RedHawks.
Corona developed into a silent leader in the middle for the Bears, Travis said.
"She finds the open spot on the court and she can control the block on the net. She's not a showboater but she is the silent element that helps us for sure," she said.
Ellen Hansen had five kills, five aces and a team-high 16 digs; Leighty added five aces and racked up 39 assists; and Morgan Diaz made five kills and three aces.
Colusa sophomore Teale Stacey had a team-high four aces, collected five kills and made two blocks.
Pierce (3-0) is playing in the Hamilton Tournament this weekend before hosting Maxwell (3-0) on Tuesday. Colusa (1-3) plays in the weekend's Marysville Tournament before traveling to Winters (2-5) on Tuesday.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.