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ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Zoe Kossart, Sierra volleyball
AOW Zoe Kossart

Sierra’s junior outside hitter capped her breakout campaign with one of her best all-around efforts.

Kossart came up with clutch plays in the second-seeded Timberwolves’ thrilling quarterfinal against visiting Lincoln of Placer County last Thursday, their historic season was ultimately halted by stunning 25-13, 25-17, 24-26, 22-25, 12-15 loss.

They trailed 21-16 in the third set, but Kossart spearheaded a comeback and gave her team match point with one of her team-high 18 kills. She totaled 53 attacks, five service aces and helped stabilize the defense with 20 digs.

The 10th-seeded Fighting Zebras lost in the semifinals at No. 3 Christian Brothers on Tuesday, 17-25, 25-16, 18-25, 23-25. Christian Brothers plays No. 1 Escalon in a final-round showdown of perennial powers Saturday.

Sierra finished its historic season with a 24-5 record and won its first-ever Valley Oak League championship in the process.

“I am extremely proud,” Kossart said. “We came in here with the expectation that we’re not going to do very much, and then to make history by taking VOL, winning and hosting a playoff match — it was just so fun to experience all these firsts with this strong group of girls.

Earlier in the week, she led Sierra’s 25-13, 25-22, 24-17 sweep of No. 15 Hilmar in the postseason opener. Kossart registered six kills, eight digs and two aces.

“I’m really excited for next year,” Kossart said. “Now, the goal is to win the second round and get to the final four. I’m definitely more motivated knowing how this feels. We had eye on the prize, so to feel this defeat I’m way more determined for next year.”