COOS BAY — Though the Southwestern Oregon Community College volleyball season wasn’t filled with success, Wednesday was a good ending to it.
Behind an offense swinging with conviction and a service game that landed 17 aces, the Lakers downed the visiting Umpqua Riverhawks 25-19, 25-27, 25-20, 25-18 to close out its regular season with a win.
“It means so much that we won on our home court,” Sophomore Brooke Fisher said. “For the sophomore night, we really came together as a team. This is one of the best games we’ve had all season, just working together.”
Coming off a winless campaign a season ago, in which the Lakers were without an aggressive-hitting offense, swinging with conviction was something head coach Michael Edmond tried to fix with recruiting.
It seemed to pay some dividends, even with the limited success SWOCC had on the season.
In Wednesday’s win, three Lakers had double-digit kills. Fisher led the way with 12, and Bailey VanWormer and Andria Santoyo each had 10. Lauren Wetzel (eight) and Hannah White (seven) combined for 15 kills from the middle, all helped out by Sidney Colledge’s 44 assists.
“That’s definitely something we didn’t have last year,” Fisher said. “I think we definitely developed it way more this year.”
But it was perhaps the serving that helped SWOCC the most.
Those 17 aces kept the Umpqua offense from running smoothly and finding hard-hitters, McKenna Wilson, a Coquille graduate who led the Riverhawks with 13 kills, and Emma Lind, who had 11.
Six different Lakers had aces, with Colledge notching the most with six, and White added four. It was a pair of White aces in the first set where SWOCC grabbed the momentum late, and it was consecutive aces from Colledge in the fourth set to grab early momentum, allowing the Lakers to pull away.
“Having a strong serving game is incredibly important, just because it throws the other team off of what they’re gonna do,” Fisher said. “It’s probably gonna throw them off of their strongest potential hitting.”
The focused hitting and aggressive serving helped to buoy the SWOCC offense and weather a few Umpqua runs, which came in all four sets.
Southwestern Oregon Community College's Sydney Colledge bumps the ball during a match Wednesday against Umpqua Community College at SWOCC.
With the exception of the first set, SWOCC took comfortable leads only to see Umpqua whittle them away.
After the first half of the first set was essentially even, Colledge’s fourth ace of the night opened up a four-point lead at 16-12, forcing an Umpqua timeout and SWOCC never relented its lead for the remainder.
The Lakers built a five-point lead in the second set, but a 5-0 Umpqua run tied it back up at 16. The Lakers had a chance to end it, leading 24-23, but Umpqua stayed alive with a SWOCC double hit, then a bad pass with Umpqua up 26-25 forced a hit to go outside the antenna, tying the match at one set apiece.
Once again, SWOCC built a lead in the third set and watched it slowly evaporate. Facing a 11-5 deficit, Umpqua embarked on a 6-1 run to cut the Laker lead to 12-11. Madison Becker had a couple aces during the run.
But SWOCC, with a roster comprised mostly of freshmen, responded, keeping the Riverhawks at arm’s length with kills coming from five different players and the Lakers won the set going away.
With a win in sight, Colledge landed her final two aces of the match and the Lakers were off and running. After taking a 10-4 lead, forcing and Umpqua timeout, SWOCC never led by fewer than three and as much as eight, getting two powerful kills from Santoyo to close out the victory.
“Our hitters decided they definitely were not gonna go away tonight quietly,” Edmond said. “They wanted to go out with a bang.”
Fisher, Van Wormer and North Bend graduate Brooke Aldridge were the Lakers' only sophomores. Aldridge had 11 digs in her final match for the Lakers. The three were recognized after the match.
Wilson had a team-best 21 digs for Umpqua in her return to the South Coast. She also will compete in track and field for the Riverhawks.
SWOCC Finished the season 3-11 in NWAC South Region play and 15-22 overall. Umpqua was 4-10 in league play.