The Columbia College volleyball team could not overcome a slow start when it fell behind by two games and lost in the quarterfinals of the NAIA national tournament to No. 2 Fresno Pacific on Friday night 22-30, 21-30, 30-26, 27-30.
Cougars coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said the team came out flat but raised its level of play to meet the Sunbirds in the final two games.
“We didn’t bring our competition level up early enough,” Wrye-Washington said. “Had we started playing like that we would have beaten that team.”
She said the Cougars were prone to coming out flat because they played a weak non-conference schedule. The weak schedule allowed the Cougars to play at a lower level against the majority of teams and still win.
After playing in her last game as a Cougar, senior defensive specialist Shari Tuttle said she was proud of the way the team responded after losing the first two games.
“I think we stepped up and played a heck of a game,” Tuttle said. “Yeah, they hurt us (in the first two games), but we came back and we played well. We can’t look back on those and say we did bad. We stepped up and we played ball.”
Sophomore outside hitter Rael Rotich had 18 kills and junior middle hitter Juliana Quadrado chipped in 17 to lead the Cougars. The loss dropped the Cougars' final season record to 43-7.
Returning Strong: Tuttle is the only senior the Cougars will be losing. Wrye-Washington said having the majority of the team returning will allow the Cougars to use the off-season to get more experience playing together.
“This is the first year where we had kind of a rebuilding year where we can have everyone in the spring,” Wrye-Washington said. “We don’t have to replace a big hitter or a big setter and I think we’re going to use that to our advantage in the spring and have a lot of hard practices.”