In 2020, with COVID protocols forcing high school sports to go dark, the Pioneer Review embarked on a series entitled “Coaches Corner,” featuring the recollections of longtime county coaches about their most memorable teams, with the goal being to reflect on the athletic past.
Now during this summer’s lull, we have returned to the same coaches, this time inquiring about the most memorable games they coached, asking them to narrow it down to one or two.
While not everyone chose to participate, once again the goal is to generate conversation about a few classic moments in the varied and colorful history of Colusa County sports.
It is impossible to mention every detail of each contest or all the individuals who participated. If statistics are included they were taken from MaxPreps, not from the coach’s remembrances.
With that said, no matter which team you pull for, please enjoy the stroll down memory lane.
Perhaps one of the proudest moments in a coach’s career is the point when the team turns a corner and begins playing to its potential.
Such is the case in this summer’s second installment of Coaches Corner as former Colusa volleyball head coach Tina Lyons discusses the match she believes put the RedHawks on the map and set the precedent for their continued success.
Tina Lyons, well-known in Sutter County volleyball circles having coached at Yuba City, River Valley, and Marysville high schools, in addition to club teams, came to Colusa in 2014, taking control of a program that had a 61-67 record over its previous five seasons and had won just one playoff game.
However, in her inaugural season, Lyons guided her team to a second place finish in the Sacramento Valley League and a 22-14 record heading into the Northern Section Division V playoffs.
After crushing No. 10 Esparto 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 in the first round, the No. 7 RedHawks hit the road to take on No. 2 Quincy (30-6) in what would become Lyons’ most memorable match.
A packed house and raucous atmosphere greeted the unproven RedHawks with Trojan fans far outnumbering the small group from Colusa that had made the trek.
It was a new experience for Lyons, who had heard about the difficulty in playing “mountain schools,” but did not anticipate how that would actually translate.
“I was at a new school with a new program, and in my very first second round playoff match,” recalled Lyons. “Admittedly, I was nervous; there was just so much going on in that gym.”
In the midst of that chaotic setting, Colusa was also losing the battle of the calls, and after asking for clarification in one of those instances, Lyons was unceremoniously given a yellow card.
“It was my first yellow card ever, and I wasn’t really even sure what I did,” said Lyons. “It definitely didn’t help matters though, because not only did they give the ball to Quincy, they took a point away from us. I knew it wasn’t the rule, but I was afraid to say anything else and get the red.”
As a result, the RedHawks dropped the first set 21-25, but the best was yet to come as they fought back, edging the Trojans 25-23 in the second and third sets, before completing the upset with a convincing 25-15 win in the fourth.
Teale Stacey, one of the team’s two seniors, recorded 16 kills on the night and explained how even today she still has a very vivid memory of the event, saying, “After all this time, I still remember how nervous I was every single set, knowing that we had the chance to surprise everyone by beating the No. 2 seed.”
Colusa’s other senior, setter Emily Corriea, who dished out 28 assists and led the team in service points, remembered it this way, “I didn’t even notice the crowd, but I did know we weren’t getting many calls, so I just tried to keep everyone calm. We focused on what we could control and worked together.”
In the hostile environment, Colusa, despite making 29 hitting errors, maintained its composure well enough to register 33 kills as a team and serve 96 percent from the line.
They also fended off the Trojan attack with a solid defensive effort, behind Stacey’s 39 digs and an additional 29 from junior libero Yasmine Avila.
It was the RedHawks’ biggest win to that point, as from there, they went on to oust No. 3 Hamilton City with a 3-2 win on the road, and punch their ticket to the championship match for the first time in school history.
Although they fell 3-1 to Durham in that 2014 title game, the volleyball program had been revitalized and from that point began to establish itself as a competitive force.
With Lyons on the bench, Colusa accrued a 148-84 record over the next five seasons, winning a section title in 2019, and making two deep runs into the CIF state tournament.
But Lyons says the Quincy match will always hold a special place in her heart.
“That game marked the beginning of many firsts for this program,” Lyons said. “But watching those players overcome every obstacle that was thrown at them was something special. I was one proud coach at the end of that match.”
Next week, Coaches Corner turns from the volleyball court to the gridiron as Pierce’s Scott Burnum revisits two memorable contests from his four-year stint at the helm of the Bears. ■