Avery McIntyre

Photo by John Murphy

Beaumont standout Avery McIntyre battles Citrus Valley at the net.

The Citrus Belt League girls’ volleyball season ended in an unpredictable and joyous fashion for Beaumont High.

The Cougars won their senior night match 3-0 against Citrus Valley on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Ninety minutes later, Redlands fell 3-2 to Cajon to make Beaumont the outright league champions in their first year in the league.

Beaumont’s set scores against Citrus Valley were 25-12, 25-14, and 25-13.

Following a month of pressure-packed matches, Beaumont (16-3 overall, 8-2 league) could finally call itself league champions.

“It was an honor and it felt amazing and it’s a cool achievement to be able to say that about myself and my teammates,” Beaumont senior

Shaylee Bates said. “There were some nerves going in but I always know my team can pull through.”

Said Cougars’ coach Jessica Granados, “I’m glad I don’t have to see these teams again for a long time — not saying that CIF will be any easier, but man … there was never an off day or never an off week where we could relax or play around or be silly or have a fun day. We felt the pressure every week. Even this game. It didn’t matter that (the Blackhawks) were in last place, the last time we saw them at our place we went five (sets).”

Beaumont did sweat out a five-setter against Citrus Valley (8-15, 1-9) on Sept. 27.

“They play well,” Granados said of the Blackhawks who were led by interim coach April Finazzo. “They have some good hitters, they serve tough, and it’s a credit to them.”

Beaumont was just better. Better than the rest of the league, in fact.

Beaumont setter Madeline Brown sent an ace Citrus Valley’s way to start the match.

Then there was a kill by Kiya Waters, a sideout by Citrus Valley, and then five straight kills by the Cougars for a 7-1 lead.

Sophomore outside hitter Grace Lee had three of them and senior outside Avery McIntyre the other two.

Soon 6-foot-1 middle hitter Vivian Lisboa joined the party and added four kills as Beaumont sprinted to a an easy first-set victory.

“Let’s go seniors,” the Cougar substitutes chanted in sing-song fashion as their team bolted to a 6-0 second-set lead.

Two kills from Waters, two from McIntyre and an attack error by Citrus Valley gave Beaumont the advantage. The one-sided set ended on a kill by Desmin Bayardo and the Cougars led the match 2-0 and were not going to be caught.

Twenty minutes later they completed the sweep in fitting fashion on a kill by Lisboa, who pumped her fist after the laser shot and then was enveloped by a sea of royal blue.

Lisboa, McIntyre and Brown were the heart of the Cougars, with sophomore outsides Waters and Lee improving as the season progressed.

“Finally,” McIntyre said. “I was so nervous, but I knew we could pull it together. The first time (Beaumont played Citrus Valley), I don’t think we were as connected as in this game.”

The victory ended a two-match losing skid for Beaumont which started the league season with seven consecutive victories. But consecutive setbacks to Cajon and Yucaipa had the Cougars on edge heading into the finale.

“There was no funny business in practice,” Granados said.

McIntyre led the Cougars with 13 kills, Lisboa had 11, Lee nine, and Waters seven. Brown, as always, showed her athleticism all over the court — setting, digging, serving, and passing.

Afterward, family and friends descended upon the court and congratulated the team and celebrated the seniors — Lisboa, McIntyre,

Bates, Bayardo, Jaiden Zowarka and Emily Dorsett.

“I think this is a good season to end on,” McIntyre said.

Staff Writer John Murphy may be reached at jmurphy@redlandscommunitynews.net.

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