Coming into Thursday’s matchup with Bear River, the Nevada Union girls volleyball team was reeling from a tough loss to powerhouse St. Francis and was missing a key member of its squad — head coach Marco Salcedo.
With their leader out sick, the Lady Miners rallied behind assistant coach Brook Binley and sent the Lady Bruins home with a three-set loss, 25-13, 25-21, 25-15.
“It was just what we needed,” Binley said. “This team came back after that loss to St. Francis, and we really practiced hard yesterday. I was really pleased with the way we played defense, and our offense was right on, our setting was right there, and all around it was a great win.”
Although not at the game, Salcedo still found a way to stay informed of the night’s action.
“He’s very pleased with the win,” Binley said. “We’ve been texting him, and he’s feeling pretty good about it.”
Bear River, the reigning Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section champions, has been making the rounds through a very difficult preseason in preparation for the upcoming Pioneer Valley League season.
“Its a tough situation as a coach, because you want to find the right schedule for your team,” Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald said. “We are very young, but these matches help us in the long run. I feel like we can identify strengths, things we are really trying to emphasize that we are doing well against great teams, and so it’s important to schedule tough like this.”
Despite not making the playoffs last season, Nevada Union is a talented Division I school with playoff aspirations. The Lady Bruins have also played girls volleyball powers such as Granite Bay, Christian Brothers and Oakmont.
In Thursday’s game, Bear River battled mightily, but the serving and blocking for NU was impressive.
“It’s our intensity, and the girls are starting to gel,” Binley said. “They’re getting more and more comfortable with the offense we’re running and their blocking and defense was great.”
Melanie O’Brien was amazing for the Lady Miners, roaming the net and sending back several Lady Bruin kill attempts. O’Brien also finished with a team-high nine kills.
In the first set, NU jumped out to a 13-6 lead behind kills from Emily Segel, Lauren Mickel and O’Brien. The Lady Miners were also aided by aces from Sydney Porter and Ella Corbett.
“I think Nevada Union’s serving was the difference,” MacDonald said. “I know Marco puts a big emphasis on that, and they responded. Nevada Union played outstanding tonight.”
NU would cruise to a first-set victory, closing it out with an O’Brien block followed by a Mickel ace.
In the second set, Bear River jumped on NU, 6-1, behind Kirtsen Pereira kills and several Lady Miner mistakes. Pereira finished with six kills, second on the team to Teryn Rath’s eight.
NU would right the ship, though, and chip away at the Lady Bruin lead with kills from Hannah Bryant, Segel, O’Brien and Mickel. Mickel finished with eight kills.
The Lady Miner hitters were set up beautifully by senior setter Lindsay Meyer who doled out perfect set after perfect set for her teammates to hammer down.
NU would eventually catch Bear River at 12-12, and then finish them off 25-21, ending with an Amanda Roberts kill. Roberts finished with seven kills.
In the third and final set, NU jumped out to a 14-5 lead and never looked back, taking the set and the match for NU.
“I think missing their coach tonight, with Marco being out, they rallied,” MacDonald said of NU. “They did a great job, served the ball really well and created some problems for our younger passers and got us out of our system.”
Nevada Union will take the court again Sept. 30 when it opens Sierra Foothill League play against Rocklin. Bear River is at it again this weekend when it travels to the Red Bluff tournament.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.