Forest Lake, Colfax fall short of championship

Both teams move on to NorCal tournament
By: Nick Pecoraro
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RIPON– The Forest Lake Christian Lady Falcons fell just one win short of winning their second Sac-Joaquin Section championship in school history.

A stout defensive effort and an exciting fourth set kept the Lady Falcons within reach. But the game abruptly slipped away for a final line of 17-25, 18-25, 25-22, 24-26.

“It was almost a mirror of last Tuesday’s semifinal where we had to claw our way back,” said Forest Lake head coach Travis Smith. “I think if it would’ve gone to that fifth game – both teams were exhausted with the long rallies – it would’ve been interesting.”

Smith said the defensive effort from the back row put the Lady Falcons in a position to win. Taylor Dunn had a season-high 29 digs and Raegan Tanon added 20. Up front, Lily Sween had seven blocks and Breezy Adams had four at the net.

“Our defense was scrambling all over the place,” said Smith. “They were able to take away all the angles from their big hitters.”

The senior hitter Sween led the way offensively with 13 kills while little sister, sophomore Sonja Sween added a season-high 12. Bella O’Neill dished out 26 assists and Mackenzie Wickstrom added eight.

The Stone Ridge Christian team from Merced, who went 12-0 in the Central California Athletic Alliance, moves to 28-6 and secures its first section championship.

Forest Lake is the second seed in the NorCal tournament, which begins Wednesday with a home match against Jewish Community High of San Francisco.


Hilmar takes down Colfax for D-IV title

When you reach the top of the mountain, everyone else tries to knock you down.

Last year’s section champion, Colfax, could not reach the mountain top for a second consecutive year as the Hilmar Yellowjackets delivered a three-game sweep of the Lady Falcons to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship in Ripon Saturday.

“We fought; we held our own for a little bit,” said Colfax head coach Haley Biles. “There were just a couple little 3- to 4-point deficits that were hard to recover from playing against a team like this. They were powerful, smart and have played together for a couple years.”

Despite 10 kills and 11 assists from Pioneer Valley League MVP Halle Neumann and seven each from Grace Bliss and Jacy Dean, Colfax was overmatched by the No. 1-seeded Yellowjackets.

Hilmar, the Trans Valley League champions, put up scores of 25-20 , 25-11 and 25-16 for its second section championship in school history, which matches Colfax’s output.

The Yellowjackets have two top-10 hitters in the entire section in junior Olivia Peterson and sophomore Mikela Labno, who entered Saturday with well over 400 kills apiece.

The loss halted an 11-game win streak for the Lady Falcons, who will seek redemption in this week’s NorCal tournament leading to the state championship. Colfax heads to Colusa High Tuesday in the opening round of the 14-team Northern bracket.  

“We stayed competitive,” said Biles. “We kept our heads up, for the most part. We’re going to NorCals next week, so we’re not done playing.”