At Nevada Union Wednesday night, two different causes got some much-needed help.
With colored balloons, signs and ribbons scattered all over, Albert Ali Gymnasium dressed in its finest pink. The occasion —the Nevada Union girls volleyball team helped raise money for breast cancer awareness and, at the same time, notched its first Sierra Foothill League win of the season.
On Pink Night, the Lady Miners stepped up and beat SFL foe Woodcreek in straight sets, 25-22, 25-16, 25-19.
In it’s sixth year, this time under the organization of senior Olivia McDowell, Pink Night is expected to raise nearly $2,000 after T-shirt and concession sales are tallied, said McDowell.
“The main point of this is to stress awareness in the community and early detection for breast cancer,” McDowell said. “Every year the breast imaging center is able to buy new machines to help early detection with the money we donate to them.”
All the money raised on Pink Night stays local, said McDowell.
Before the game, Kathleen Paye, a breast cancer survivor, was honored by McDowell and the Lady Miners.
Once all the ceremonies and acknowledgements were concluded, the Lady Miners went to work on the court.
In the first set, Nevada Union (14-13, 1-4 SFL) and Woodcreek (6-10, 0-4 SFL) battled neck and neck, with neither team gaining a substantial lead over the other.
The set bounced back and forth until the Timberwolves stretched their lead to 17-13. NU head coach Kelly Rhoden called a timeout to halt the momentum.
After the Lady Miners retook the court, they came out firing.
Nevada Union reeled off four straight points coming from Rachel Hadley, Emily Segel and McDowell. The Lady Miners eventually took the lead at 22-21 on a Sydney Porter ace. Porter finished with three aces on the night.
Lindsey Meyer added a sly tip for a point, and Segel sent down an emphatic spike to give the Lady Miners a 24-22 advantage. Woodcreek committed an error to close the set and give NU a one-set lead.
In the second set, Woodcreek hung tough with NU battling them to a 16-15 score, but the Lady Miners created some separation with Segel kills and Hannah Bryant blocks.
NU’s Jamie Gustafson reeled off seven straight service points, including an ace to give the Lady Miners a 23-15 advantage.
A Segel kill and a Sierra Payne ace closed out the set for NU.
In the third, Woodcreek again played NU closely, at one point leading 17-15, but several Lauren Mickel kills coupled with three straight aces from Cierra Hadley gave the Lady Miners a 20-17 lead.
After a Woodcreek error, Gustafson set up a swooping Rachel Hadley for a furious spike and point to give NU a 22-18 lead. Porter added an ace, Rachel Hadley tallied another kill, and Gustafson sent over a serve that never came back to give NU its first SFL win of the season.
“We are hoping that this will be the big turning point,” Rhoden said. “We’ve been talking a lot about it this week. They’re frustrated, but we needed to figure out how to win again and I think this just might be that momentum that will push us forward.”
Senior captain Rachel Hadley agrees with Rhoden.
“I think if we keep playing the way we did tonight, especially in the last two games, this could be a turning point,” Rachel Hadley said. “Now we are getting our confidence back, and now we’re dangerous.”
On the night, Rachel Hadley led the team in kills with 11, McDowell added six, and Bryant had six. Meyer led the team with 17 assists, and Gustafson dished out 15 assists.
The Lady Miners take the court again Saturday at the Norcal Classic Tournament.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford, call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org