The Lady Bruins are peaking right now, and the timing couldn’t be better.
The Bear River girls volleyball team hasn’t dropped a set in seven matches, a span of 23 days, and have demolished their first two opponents in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs in short order. After blowing out Marysville in the first round and trouncing rival Colfax in the second round, the Lady Bruins (28-12 overall, 9-1 Pioneer Valley League) will now take on No. 3 seed Sonora in the semifinals.
“We haven’t been able to find out a ton about them,” Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald said of Sonora. “We know they are a relatively young team with a couple of sophomore starters.”
Sonora has only two seniors on the team to go with four juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman.
Bear River last faced Sonora in the second round of the 2011 playoffs, defeating the Wildcats (28-7 overall,, 13-1 Valley Oak League) in four sets.
MacDonald realizes that there are no more easy opponents, and if the Lady Bruins are going to hang a section banner for the first time since 1998, they will have to get strong performances from their top players.
Sara Schell leads the team in kills with 10.7 per match, Kirsten Pereira is second with 7.1 per match, Teryn Rath leads the team in blocks with 42, and Kaya Johnson leads the team in assists with 9.4 per set.
The Bruins are no stranger to playoff pressure as seven different Lady Bruins are making their third venture deep into the playoffs. Schell, a four-year varsity player, is joined by Pereira, Johnson, Cheyenne Gosalvez, Amanda Clark, Rath and Haley Brown, who have all been with the varsity team since 2010.
Despite having all the playoff experience you would want when making a push for a section championship, the Lady Bruins have yet to go to a fifth set against any team this season.
“It’s definitely odd,” MacDonald said. “You would think that after 40 matches we would’ve. It’s definitely in the back of my mind. It would be nice to have that experience.
Bear River has gone to a decisive third set in tournament play once this season.
With just two wins separating the Lady Bruins from winning the section championship, MacDonald said the team is maintaining the one-game-at-a-time mentality, but that the thought has crossed his mind.
“It’s in the back of my mind for sure,” MacDonald said. “The girls are in a good spot. They’re focused on the moment, but it is definitely in the back of my mind.
The battle for the right to play for the section championship begins at 7 p.m. today at Jack R. McCrory gymnasium.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org