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Gridley Herald

Lady Bulldogs sweep Thunderbirds, grab 3rd seed in D3 playoffs

Oct 21, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Steven Bryla

Gridley junior middle hitter Alyssa Thompson gets ready to hit the ball over the net during a three-set sweep over Oroville on October 13 in Gridley.

Lady Bulldogs sweep Thunderbirds, grab 3rd seed in D3 playoffs [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

OROVILLE, CA (MPG) - The Gridley varsity volleyball team tied its highest season win total with 19 on Thursday, October 20, when they swept the Las Plumas Thunderbirds in three-sets.

Although Gridley (19-10, 5-3 Butte View League) swept Las Plumas (6-22, 0-8 BVL), it didn’t come easily as the Lady Bulldogs had to play extra points in the first set and it went down to the wire in the third set. Gridley won the sets 28-26, 25-13 and 25-23.

Bulldogs senior captain and setter Avery Weagant led Gridley with the most attempted serves against the Thunderbirds with 18. Weagant had three aces along with 22 assists and seven digs.

Fellow senior and captain for the Bulldogs, Kennison Cota, led the match with eight blocks and contributed four aces, seven kills and 13 digs for Gridley.

Cota led the Bulldogs in every statistical category during the season except for assists, where Weagant led in that category with an average of 5.2 assists per set.

RELATED: Lady Bulldogs earn first BVL win following back-to-back losses to open league

Gridley grabbed the third seed in the CIF Northern Section Division III Playoffs where they will travel and play at the Orland Trojans (21-9, 7-1 BVL) in the second round on Tuesday, November 1. Both teams received a first-round bye due to their only being five teams in the bracket. The two BVL teams split a two-match series during the season where both teams won on their home-court.

Bulldogs head coach Liz Ayon told The Herald that with the long period in between matches, she is going to freshen up on the basics of volleyball that include hitting, setting and service.

“We’re going to be more consistent while we play against one another like scrimmaging during practice time,” Ayon said.

Ayon added that she is going to attempt to keep her team focused and consistent like they have been throughout the season since it started and to not get complacent. Cota and Weagant were chosen as captains for Gridley by their teammates. Ayon told The Herald that she wants her captains to be the loudest voices in the gym going forward.

“I want to see them talking and communicating the most while we play, along with having good energy and being positive,” Ayon said. “Doing the things that a coach can’t make you do, but you have control over.”

The one difference between the two matches between Orland and the Lady Bulldogs was that Weagant didn’t play in the first match on September 20. 6 out of the seven sets played between the Trojans and Gridley have been decided by six points or less, to where the matches could have gone in favor of either team.

RELATED: Bulldogs cruise past Tigers with ease, continue playoffs push

Orland knocked the Lady Bulldogs out of the NSCIF Playoffs last season in the second round. Ayon said she spotted differences between this year’s Trojans team compared to last season.

“They graduated some good players, but still have some of the key players from last year's roster,” Ayon told The Herald.

Two of the key returners for Orland include senior setter Zoey James and senior outside hitter Hannah Martins. James is the Trojans leader in assists this season with 506 and 100 aces from serving. Martins finished in the top three of the kills, hitting percentage and digs categories for Orland during the regular season.

Ayon added one of the newest additions for the Trojans this season that has added some positive play for Orland is freshman middle hitter Lillianna Rowe. Rowe led the Trojans during the season in blocks and hitting percentage, along with having the second most kills on the team during the season.

With Gridley’s 19 regular season wins being the most since the 2017 season, Ayon told The Herald that this group of players’ “energy and effort they give on the court,” is special.

She added that multiple fans who come out to watch the Lady Bulldogs have said they like the team’s high energy and the way they have fun on the court, or how they celebrate after scoring an ace or big point in the match.

Gridley and Orland scare off next Tuesday with the first serve scheduled for 7 p.m.