The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

With a roster featuring one sophomore and a dozen freshmen, the College of San Mateo women’s volleyball team is a work in progress.

If the Bulldogs can get to where head coach Katie Goldhahn believes they go, it will be a successful season for CSM.

“This team is hungry,” Goldhahn said.

After a soft opening saw them win three straight, winning nine of 10 sets, the Bulldogs went into the deep end of the pool Wednesday as they hosted Sierra, ranked No. 19 in the state, and Feather River — ranked No. 1 in state and the defending 2019 state champion.

CSM opened the day with a five-set thriller in beating Sierra, 25-21, 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-11, but it ended with a sweep at the hands of Feather River, 25-10, 25-23, 25-23, which won its 20th match in a row dating to the 2019 season. The 2020-21 season was canceled because of COVID.

“We had two strong opponents,” Goldhahn said. “It was nice to get that win (over Sierra), but I think we were all anxious to see how we stacked up against [Feather River].”

All things being equal, the young Bulldogs acquitted themselves very well against Feather River — after the first set, that is. In that opening set, CSM seemingly couldn’t do anything right. The Bulldogs struggled with their serve receive, which then put the rest of the offense in flux.

The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, looked none the worse for wear playing in their second match in as many hours.

They took the court against CSM about 30 minutes after sewing up a 25-19, 25-21, 16-25, 25-15 win over Sierra.

“These tris (tri-meets) are rough,” Goldhahn said.

But it was business as usual for the Golden Eagles in Game 1 against the Bulldogs, needing just 11 kills as a team, to go along with five service aces and nine CSM errors.

Compare that to just three kills for the Bulldogs in the opening set.

“I think there was a little bit of hype and amp in that first game,” Goldhahn said. “We’re still, truly, learning how to play next to each other.”

The Bulldogs must be quick learners because they looked like a much more composed team in Game 2. Despite the Bulldogs playing better, so did the Golden Eagles, who showed off a crafty attack to keep the Bulldogs off balance.

“Their volleyball IQ, I would say, is something to credit to them,” Goldhahn said.

Down 8-6, CSM got a kill off the Feather River block off a swing from Alister Boradbo (Mercy-Burlingame) that ignited a 4-0 run that included a kill from Lolo Folau (Aragon) and a service ace Zooey Walsworth (San Mateo).

Feather River responded with 5-0 run of its own to regain the lead, 13-11. The Golden Eagles eventually pushed their lead to 21-18, but a Valerie Bruk (San Mateo) roof, a Feather River setting error and a roof block from Beanna Evans (Newark Memorial) tied the match at 21.

But the defending state champs re-asserted its control and won four of the final six points to hold off the Bulldogs, 25-23.

It was more of the same in Game 3, with neither team leading by more than a few points. The game was tied at 6-all when the Bulldogs went on a 4-0 run to take a 10-6 lead.

Feather River came back with a flurry, winning seven of the next 10 points and all that did was bring the Golden Eagles level with CSM at 13-all.

The Bulldogs kept pressing and when a Grace Thayer attack went out of bounds off the Feather River block, CSM had a 22-19 lead.

The Golden Eagles, however, would reel off three straight points to tie the game at 22. They then won three of the final four points to finish off the sweep.

Folau led CSM with nine kills against Feather River. Naomie Cremoux (Los Altos) added seven, Briahna Garcia (Tracy) had four while Boradbo and Thayer had three kills each.

“I think we weren’t firing on all cylinders,” Goldhahn said.

In the win over Sierra, Boradbo finished with 18 kills, while Folau and Evans had a dozen each. Eyriana Eatmon (Rodriguez-Fairfield) pumped out 38 assists, while Angelinia Estrada (Logan-Union City) had a team-high 16 digs.