Philomath senior Abigail Brown “stayed true to leading, even in a tough loss,” coach Autumn Hilberg said. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The Philomath High School volleyball team’s season ended Saturday in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs with loss at Baker.

The fifth-seeded Bulldogs downed the 12th-seeded Warriors in three sets, 25-15, 25-11 and 25-12.

“It’s always tough when the season ends,” PHS coach Autumn Hilberg said. “Only one team wins it all, so playing with the last game mentality was what we wanted as coaches.”

Hilberg said Baker (17-5) passed well and disrupted Philomath’s system.

“We couldn’t seem to get a groove,” she said. “It’s hard to play eight hours away — bus ride takes that long — in (front of) a big and rowdy crowd.”

Hilberg said senior Abigail Brown stepped up big in her final match with the Warriors.

“She has been such an amazing leader all season,” Hilberg said. “She has made my first year of coaching easy. The leadership she showed today was just a glimpse of all she did. She really stayed true to leading, even in a tough loss.”

Brown finished with a team-high eight kills. Elsewhere on the stat sheet, junior Madison Juhl had four blocks, senior Kori Galvan finished with 14 digs and sophomore Ashleigh Brown had 19 assists.

In a touching moment, Hilberg said Baker took it upon itself to include PHS junior Clara Stanley as an honorary starter before the match. Stanley suffered a season-ending injury back in September.

“They did that completely on their own,” Hilberg said. “We had nothing to do with it. It was touching and well deserved for the teammate she has been.”

Philomath ends up with an overall record of 16-9. The Warriors, which finished third in the Oregon West Conference standings, advanced to the playoffs following Tuesday’s straight-set win over Cottage Grove.

“To come into a season with only three players with varsity experience isn’t easy,” Hilberg said. “The team had to work hard to get touches to gain experience compared to other teams we played. In all honesty, we made it further than I envisioned. But looking back at the work the players put in and the growth we saw, I am not surprised we got as far as we did.”

Hilberg said she’s thankful for support she received from the high school’s administration to implement her coaching into the program.