Nerves, inexperience get to Orland volleyball in NSCIF championship loss

Nerves, inexperience get to Orland volleyball in NSCIF championship loss

RED BLUFF — The Orland volleyball team went a perfect 15-0 at home in the 2021 season. After going 5-27 four years ago, the Trojans varsity team finished 25-3 and 12-0 in the Butte View League in the 2021 season, earning a spot in the Northern Section Division III finals for the first time in the coaches’ class’ memory.

However, in the NSCIF D-III championship Saturday at Red Bluff High School, the No. 1 seed Orland lost 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-18) to the No. 2 seed West Valley.

Fans from both Orland and West Valley flocked in attendance to cheer on their respective schools. Orland head coach Miranda Coughlin said despite the neutral site it almost felt like a home match with the number of Trojan fans in attendance.

Orland fell behind early, and once the Trojans fell behind it was hard for players to keep the fight. Assistant coach Lisa Vlach said Orland was not just beat by West Valley, but it was also beat by themselves.

“I think it was the fact that this was the first year that we’ve ever gone this far that they just didn’t have the experience of being in a playoff game and they let their nerves get ahold of them,” Vlach said.

Coughlin agreed experience made a difference in Saturday’s match. It was the first time Orland had reached the finals in a long time, and for West Valley, it had reached the NSCIF playoffs for more than five years prior to the pandemic shortened 2020 season.

Coughlin said the coaches and team worked really hard in the last year and players practiced together through the pandemic. She said the team attended a camp in July together at Feather River College and explained that on the way up to the match at Red Bluff Saturday the seniors on the team talked about the camp being the time the team really came together and bonded and believed a playoff run was possible.

“We always set team goals at the beginning and we let the girls set them,” Coughlin said. “When they set them (the coaches) kind of look at each other and we thought they were going to far exceed that just because we could tell they had the team chemistry and they had the physical ability.”

Orland High volleyball setter Zoey James (2) touches the ball over the net in the Northern Section Division III finals on Saturday, October 6, 2021, in Red Bluff, California. (Justin Couchot/Enterprise-Record)

Orland’s team has eight juniors who will be returning on its 13 girl roster, including setter and team captain Zoey James, and both coaches are excited to see what next year’s team and this year’s playoff experience will do.

“I do think that we’ll have the experience of being here will help,” Vlach said. “They’ll know that the nerves, you gotta let the nerves go. You can’t let them affect your game.”

A meeting will be held Sunday to determine which teams go to the state tournament. The winning team West Valley will get an automatic bid, and there will be several “at large” spots that are still to be determined as well.

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