Falcons power past Grizzlies | TheUnion.com

Falcons power past Grizzlies

Forest Lake Christian's Christin Blair goes up for a kill during a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game against Golden Sierra Thursday.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

The Lady Falcons have already reached their goal of winning the Central Valley California League title for girls volleyball, said head coach Travis Smith. The rest is just icing.

Well, if No. 3 seed Forest Lake Christian plays the way it did in Thursday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V second round playoff game, a straight set victory over Golden Sierra, then it will have a pretty sweet season when all is said and done.

The Lady Falcons (20-4) played three close sets, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19, with the Lady Grizzlies, but when it came down to crunch time, they dominated.

“We really enjoy this game,” said CVCL MVP Morgan Koch. “We have this saying that ‘we’ve come too far,’ and that gets us excited to push even harder.”

Forest Lake Christian was led by Koch with 23 kills, three blocks and 18 digs.

All-CVCL first teamer Aly English added four kills while distributing a team-high 20 assists.

Fellow All-CVCL first teamer Emily Pearce did a little of everything with 15 assists, six kills and a block. All-CVCL second teamer Hailey Adams added six kills and two blocks and fellow second-teamer Hannah Zea chipped in five kills and seven digs.

“There is no other offense in our section that is as explosive as ours,” Smith said. “And, if we can play defense like we did tonight, it’s going to be a fun ride.”

The No. 6 Grizzlies made their way into the second round with a straight-set victory over Foresthill but were no match for the Lady Falcons.

In the first set, FLC was a little error prone as Golden Sierra grabbed an 8-6 lead, getting most of its points on Lady Falcon errors.

Forest Lake Christian quickly righted the ship, getting kills from Zea, Christin Blair, Pearce and Koch to knot the game at 12-12. Golden Sierra tallied back-to-back kills from Paige Murchison. Undeterred, the Lady Falcons went on a 13-5 run to win the set, highlighted by a precision touch kill by Koch.

“We don’t get antsy,” Koch said. “We just look for the spots. We played a really controlled game and knew where to hit.”

In the second set, FLC trailed 12-11, but outside hitter Christin Blair remedied that with three straight aces. The hard-hitting junior fired three unreturnable serves at Golden Sierra, giving FLC a lead, and it would not relent. Blair finished with four aces, 12 digs and multiple kills.

“I saw the fire in her today,” Smith said of Blair. “She played an all around excellent game. Excellent serve receive, excellent passing; she got a lot of digs on really hard hits, and those are crucial points.”

In the third and final set, FLC again fell behind early, this time 10-5, prompting Smith to call a timeout. After that timeout, the Lady Falcons went on a 20-9 run, getting kills from Koch, Pearce, Zea and Adams. FLC’s English would finish the Lady Grizzlies off with a nice kill, sending the FLC team and student body on to the floor for an exuberant embrace.

The win advances the Lady Falcons to Tuesday’s Division-V semifinals, where they will travel to face No. 2 Bradshaw Christian.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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