Oct. 25—COLFAX — The Colfax volleyball team's potential journey back to the state championship has begun 347 days after the Bulldogs lost to the La Conner Braves in the 2022 Washington Class 2B title match.
The Bulldogs took down the Upper Columbia Academy Lions of Spangle, Wash., 25-14, 25-12, 25-16 on Tuesday in the first round of the District 7 tournament at Colfax High School.
Colfax dominated throughout all three sets and built precious momentum going into the second round.
"I think it was a solid win," Colfax coach Megan Dorman said. "A good playoff victory. I thought we came out strong and I didn't think we let off too bad and we've struggled with that the last few games, coming out in that third set and coming off soft. So I thought we came out in the third set better than we have."
Here's what went down:
Keep with the attack
The Lions struggled in the first set to counter the strong and targeted attacks of the Bulldogs. Colfax was able to find the gaps between the middle and backline of UCA seemingly at-will. This played out to the tune of an 11-2 Bulldogs lead before the Lions called a timeout to try to halt the home team's momentum.
UCA managed to clean up its defense a little bit as the set progressed but Colfax still led 22-10 before the Lions' final attempted push.
The Bulldogs' attack ended up being too strong in the last few points. UCA scored thrice off attack errors by Colfax that went out of bounds but it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the early deficit.
Give and take
The Bulldogs were never really at risk of losing the second or third sets and had the lead throughout the entirety of the match, but the Lions made it interesting starting in the second frame.
Colfax held a 7-2 lead over UCA to start the second set, and the two Northeast 2B rivals exchanged scores for the next seven points. The Bulldogs managed to score two straight to go up 11-6 and break the streak, but the Lions kept within four points for the next few scores.
Colfax ended up breaking that streak as well and went on a 6-0 run to go up 18-9. From that point, the Bulldogs outscored the Lions 7-3 to close out Set 2 and take a 2-0 match lead.
Wrapping it up
The third set played out similarly to the second, down to Colfax owning a 13-9 lead over UCA. The Lions avoided the big runs by the Bulldogs in the third set but still couldn't come back to tie or get closer than four points in the late stages.
The way the match played out, the few points UCA was able to pull out ultimately didn't matter, but as the district tournament goes on and should Colfax make it to state, those late points might end up paying much higher dividends.
"I think we just have to keep our composure," Dorman said. "Hitters just need to keep finding the court. I think we did a better job of hitting spots tonight. We've been working on that. ... But you really don't know what to expect until you get to the tougher opponents. Sometimes, it's more the opponent and what they're giving you."
Lions' 'Swan song'
The Bulldogs' hitters were firing on all cylinders the whole match and junior middle blocker Ava Swan was a large reason why.
Swan scored the first point in all three sets with successful kill attempts and finished with 11 total for the match.
Senior setter Lauryn York facilitated the Colfax offense with 28 assists and added her name to the point tally with three aces.
Junior libero Gracie Bofto and senior setter Hope Fulfs led the Bulldogs with 14 digs. Fulfs and senior outside hitter Hailey Demler led the team with two blocks. Junior outside hitter Brenna Gilchrist also added three aces.
Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.