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Shasta volleyball earns three-peat with four-set win over Foothill

The Shasta volleyball team poses with the section title plaque after its four-set win over Foothill on Saturday. (Photo by Aaron Williams / Shasta County Sports)

RED BLUFF – The past was good for the Shasta volleyball team with the Wolves winning section titles in three of the past four years. The future looks bright with sophomore setter Britney Blomquist and junior hitter Courtney Oilar. The present? Well, it’s pretty good, too, for the westsiders as the Wolves (16-15) three-peated Saturday with a four-set win over No. 1 seed Foothill (13-16) in the Northern Section Division III finals at Red Bluff High school.

Shasta combined their young stars with a solid group of seniors, led by libero Teagan Freeman, to down the Cougars  23-25, 25-15, 25-8, 25-15 for its fourth title in five seasons.

The opening set was tight throughout as the Wolves led most of the way, but were never able to build a lead larger than four at 17-13 after a Foothill hitting error. But Pablo Lana’s team kept fighting and fought back from a 23-20 deficit after a Blomquist-to-Lauren Weaver kill. A net violation and two consecutive Jenna Wallace kills tied the score at 23. Maddy Frick’s kill gave Foothill its first lead at 24-23 and a Shasta hitting error gave the set to the Cougars.

“We knew that we were better than what we had showed (in the first set) and we knew it was our own mistakes,” Blomquist said.

And then things got strange.

As the teams were set to take the court for the second set, the officials were taking a while looking over the lineup sheet of Foothill.

“I put in the wrong lineup and I switched a couple of hitters by mistake,” Lana said.

The error had the Cougars confused to start the set and never got in a rhythm as the Wolves raced out to a 17-10 lead.

“They were discombobulated,” Blomquist said. “That was a momentum shift.”

And while the Cougars looked to right the ship, the Wolves pounced as Blomquist found a variety of hitters, including Weaver for four kills, Oilar for three and Lily MacMillan

Shasta huddles after its win over Foothill in the Division III section finals. (Photo by Aaron Williams / Shasta County Sports)

for a pair in a 25-15 win.

“It totally confused us and we lost our concentration on the game. It gave them a lot of momentum and almost a free game,” Lana said of the error.¬† “It’s my bad, I said ‘Hey we all make mistakes in life and I made the worst coaching mistake you can make at the section finals.’ ”

With the match tied at 1 set, the Wolves kept the momentum going as Freeman hounded Foothill hitters with dig after dig and Blomquist continued to find hitters as Foothill sought to take away Oiler, the middle hitter, with a triple block. Blomquist finished with 35 assists to eight different Shasta hitters. Weaver led the way with 14 kills, Oilar had eight, MacMillan added six, and Emily Johnson and Mackenzie Caples each had three.

“Both outside hitters, Weaver and the left-handers (Johnson and Caples) did a good job of putting the ball in when we were commit-blocking against Courtney,” Lana said. “We had to take away their first option and their second and third options did a great job.”

And if the Cougars seemed confused during the second set, they almost seemed defeated in the third as Shasta ran to a 20-7 lead as Oilar started powering through, over and around the block of the Cougars.

“I understand when she (Blomquist) went away from me because they were stationed in front of me,” Oilar said. “But I’ve worked on trying to get through the block, working around it and finding the holes.”

The Wolves capped the set with a 25-8 win, punctuated with a Weaver kill on set point.

Shasta made the fourth set academic on strong serving from Zoe Lin, who had three straight aces to bump the Wolves’ lead to 13-5 at one point, and Freeman ended the match with a championship ace.

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. In addition to coaching freshman football, Williams is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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