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Jan. 16, 2022

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Camas volleyball bounces back with excitement to beat Kelso in four

Young Papermakers had to play four matches in five days after COVID pause

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

CAMAS — There is no state tournament this year for the Camas volleyball team.

But the Papermakers had a state-like schedule in the last week.

A week-long pause in school activities due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Camas students created a logjam in the Papermakers’ schedule.

Camas played four matches in five days, the final match was a 3-2 loss to Skyview — the Papermakers’ first defeat this season.

“We played Thursday, Friday, Saturday and then Monday, and the girls were exhausted,” Camas coach Michelle Ford said. “They just hadn’t played that much for a while, and Skyview played very well.”

The Papermakers bounced back with a 3-1 victory over Kelso, 25-17, 25-13, 19-25, 25-19 on Thursday.

“We had to work on a couple of things in practice (after the loss to Skyview) — our offense, our passing,” senior Grace Varsek said. “But I think that kind of motivated us to work harder. I think it worked well.”

Ford said Thursday provided a big test for the Papermakers. Kelso had won eight straight matches since falling to Camas to open the season on Feb. 22.

“The girls really responded,” Ford said. “You could tell the energy right away. You could see at the start of the game, they felt good about it.”

Varsek, who had 13 kills and 13 digs, is one of just two seniors on the squad. Junior Emmy Hansen had 20 kills and seven digs, junior Sydney Moltrum had 48 assists and 14 digs and freshman Halle Reiter added 18 digs.

Varsek and Hansen played big roles as Camas took control in the deciding fourth set.

“Honestly, this team is one of the mentally toughest teams I’ve ever met,” Ford said. “They’re very even keel. There’s no drama. They all get along. And just with all the changes, they’ve just been so flexible, whether it’s when we were closed for a week or when we started our season and had to get going, they jumped into it with excitement and ready to go. It’s been fun. It’s been a lot of fun.”

The 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League is capping the season with a round-robin style playoff finish. And a second loss this week would have relegated Camas into a lower-tier of teams heading into next week’s final week of play.

“We lost our game on Monday, so we really had to win this one to stay in the top tier,” Varsek said. “So that was some pressure, but I think we handled it well. We came out swinging. It was good.”