PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Falcons tame Lions, advance to D6 semifinals (PHOTO GALLERY) |

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Falcons tame Lions, advance to D6 semifinals (PHOTO GALLERY)


Bella O’Neill: 11 kills, 18 digs

Raegan Tannon: 21 digs

Kenzie Wickstrom: 22 assists, 13 digs

Once the Lady Falcons volleyball team shook off a few Halloween cobwebs, they dug deep and dished out plenty of tricks for the competition and treats for the home crowd Thursday night.

Forest Lake Christian defeated Faith Christian in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 6 playoffs, winning in straight sets, 25-17, 25-15, 25-18, and advancing to the semifinals.

“I think we were all just really encouraging to each other,” said senior Bella O’Neill, who led the charge with 11 kills to go with 18 digs. “We worked together, communicated and didn’t give up. We just pushed each other.”

The Lady Falcons overcame an early 8-2 deficit in the first set, surging back to reclaim the lead at 10-9 and never looked back en route to a 25-17 victory.

“This win, obviously we’re happy about it,” said Lady Falcons first-year girls varsity head coach Shannon Syfstestad. “Obviously we have work to do in lots of areas. Faith Christian gave us a good fight. They have a really effective setter who puts balls over on second balls and we’re not necessarily used to that in our league.”

In the second set Forest Lake Christian opened up a seemingly comfortable 15-8 lead, but Faith Christian battled back to within two points, trailing 16-14. Answering the call, the Lady Falcons sparked an offensive rally and regained momentum to silence the Lions roar, closing out the set on a 9-1 run.

Riding the positive energy coming from the bench and booming echoes of the drums from the student sections, the Lady Falcons took control of the third set from the get-go and hammered down impressive kills to seal the deal and advance.

“We just played our game and worked together as a team,” said senior Reagan Tannon, who led on the defensive end with 21 digs. “When we all just check in, when we just come together as a team and we cheer, just smile and laugh, that’s when we play our game. We just shake off all the stress or whatever and play our best.”

Also stepping up for the Lady Falcons was senior Katie Lowery, who made her presence felt at the net with three blocks. Junior Ellie Wood caught fire from beyond the service line, tallying 19 points for the match. Senior Megan West served up a team-high five aces as the team chemistry could not be stopped.

“Reagan, our Libero, had some really good serve-receive, but also we placed the ball really well,” added Syfstestad. “Bella O’Neill did a really good job at placing the ball, short line, deep line, around the blockers and stuff like that. And again, what’s really unique about our team, everyone notices it, we get comments all the time, is how much we cheer for one another and how much we support one another. That’s just a really special, unique thing about Forest Lake.”

No. 3 seed Forest Lake Christian (18-10) hits the road for its semifinal match Tuesday at No. 2 seed Sacramento Adventist.

Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.

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