The Camas High School volleyball team finished a rung higher on the state championship ladder than it did a season ago.
After state finalist Emerald Ridge blew them out of the Marcus Pavilion Friday, the girls played their best ball against University and Tahoma to finish in fifth place.
“We put that in the past, flipped the page and started over,” said senior libero Abby Young. “It’s a new day.”
Spoken like a true Papermaker. Young covered the backline and racked up 48 digs during those final two matches.
“Just go for everything. That’s what I always try to do,” she said. “No fear.”
Christina Elliott anchored the attack with 104 assists, 23 service points, 9 kills and 4 aces. She also had a handful of blocks and digs.
“It’s a good feeling when you set the ball up and the hitter smashes it down,” Elliott said. “And getting set up every once in a while is always nice.”
Lauren Harris compiled 21 kills, 16 service points and 10 digs against University. And then another 22 kills, 26 digs and 11 service points at the mercy of Tahoma. She also earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
“We will never forget the feeling of that last match, and how the entire team came together for a great finish,” Harris said. “All of our hard work finally paid off.”
Erika Weber scored some big points for the Papermakers on a sprained ankle. The CHS junior earned 14 kills, 21 digs and a few blocks Saturday.
“It’s important for us to play well for the seniors. This was their last time in a Camas uniform, and we wanted to make it special for them,” Weber said. “We left everything out there. Heart, passion, emotion, love, you name it.”
Head coach Julie Nidick achieved her goal of getting Carly Banks, Elliott, Harris, Nicole Loewen, Sophi Jacobson, Taylor Jones, Devyn Sigurdson and Young on the floor at the same time during the final match. Nidick and assistant coaches Michelle Allen, Ari Van Horn and Becky Coyle did all they could to get the girls mentally prepared for their grand finale.
“These girls play with such heart and passion,” Nidick said. “It’s so infectious. The team rallies around that and fights for every point.”
The Papermakers did the rest. Jacobson dunked the ball on Tahoma at the net to finish the deal.
Banks collected 14 kills and Jacobson added 13. Anna Roche owned the net with 5 kills and 4 blocks. Loewen notched 10 digs, 9 service points and 2 aces.
“We have eight seniors on this team. A lot of emotion went into that last match,” Jacobson said. “We were not only playing for the win, but for the last point, last dig and the last pass. This really brought closure, the way we played out there.”
The Camas volleyball team has been to state every year since Nidick took over the program in 2005. This was the fourth time the Papermakers finished in fifth place. The highest they have climbed up the ladder is second place in 2000.
“Only four teams in the state get to finish with a win,” Nidick said. “We are one of those. It was a great way to bounce back. This truly was a team effort.”
A week ago, Banks said she didn’t want to walk off the court feeling regret. When the time came Saturday, there were lots of smiles, some tears, but definitely no regrets.
“It doesn’t matter what the score says,” Banks said. “Being able to play volleyball with these girls is better than anything else.”