The Bear River girls volleyball team proved three things Tuesday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.
One, it has some of the best hitters in all of the section. Two, it can overcome a deficit in a pressure situation. And, three, it knows how to close out a match.
The No. 2 seeded Lady Bruins showed a little bit of everything in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal round as they tore through No. 3 seed Sonora in three sets, 25-4, 25-23, 25-15.
With the win, the Lady Bruins will head to the section championship game for the second straight year, and will take on Ripon Christian Thursday night at UC Davis.
Bear River was the section runner-up last season, losing to Union Mine in four sets.
“Last year we were just happy and content to be in Davis,” Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald said. “This year it’s time to finish the job.”
The Lady Bruins came out and mauled Sonora in the first set. Bear River jumped out to 15-1 lead behind a plethora of power kills set up by senior setter Kaya Johnson. Kills from Teryn Rath, Sara Schell and Kirsten Pereira set the tone for the night as the Lady Bruins cruised to a 25-4 first set victory.
Johnson would finish the night with 27 assists and three aces. Pereira led Bear River in kills with 13, and Schell added 10.
In the second set, Sonora played much better and keyed on reigning Pioneer Valley League MVP Schell. With Schell pulling two and sometimes three defenders with her, the Lady Bruins looked elsewhere for some offense.
“I think the biggest thing we showed tonight was our versatility,” MacDonald said. “They made an effort to stop Sara Schell. They had two, sometimes three blockers on her ... It gave us some problems and we made some errors, but that’s why you have an Amanda Clark. She reeled off four kills in a row to really get us going.”
Clark, a senior, injected the Lady Bruins with some life in the second set when she notched all four of her kills on the night.
“I always take the opportunity when I get it,” Clark said. “I’m not always the front runner, but when I get set, I make sure to do good so I don’t let down the team.”
To end the second set, Bear River erased a 23-20 deficit with five straight points coming off Sonora errors and Pereira kills.
“We are a huge family and we play together as a team,” Clark said. “No matter what, if we get down we know how to come back because we are so strong together.”
In the third set, Bear River and Sonora wrestled the lead back and forth until the set was knotted at 14-14.
A Sonora error followed by three Schell kills got the Lady Bruins the edge and they never looked back, going on to win, 25-15.
Bear River’s Teryn Rath added three kills and several blocks on the night, Haley Brown was key on the back row keeping many rallies alive for Bear River, and Nicole Nattrass added an ace in the final set to help close things out.
With the win, Bear River gets an automatic bid to the state tournament, but will first play Ripon Christian Thursday for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org