Everybody saw some action for the Nevada Union volleyball squad as the Miners made the most of a memorable Senior Night, defeating Roseville in three straight sets Monday at Albert Ali Gymnasium, 25-22, 25-22, 25-20.
“It was nice to let those seniors go all three games,” said NU head coach Marco Salcedo. “It was fun to watch them play and hear the crowd. It’s what being a senior is all about.”
With so much emphasis placed on honoring the seniors, it was fitting to see the night’s final point smashed down by first-year senior player Gabe Saturnino, who was more than happy to be in his own shoes when match-point hit the hardwood.
“Oh my goodness, to get something that big after a season, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” said Saturnino. “It was the highlight of my season. (Chandler) Heppe was the one who recruited me. I had been swimming. I convinced Nat (Cartmell) to try out. We’ve known own each other since freshman year.”
Cartmell, another first-year senior player for NU, was especially grateful for the opportunities he’s had on and off the court this season.
“I really like the sport, and we have lots of friends on the team,” Cartmell said. “The amount of growing, bonding with the team has been great. I played a lot tonight, and whenever we go in, everyone’s always rooting for you. It’s been incredible to be a part of.”
The Miners jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in Game 1 with a well-placed tip and a block by senior Austin Marks. Roseville roared back with a 6-0 run to take the lead, but NU responded with a 12-4 run highlighted by impressive kills by none other than senior Bobby Curtis. After a kill by Curtis, the Miners went up 24-18, but the Tigers tried to claw their way back with a 4-0 run featuring three-consecutive blocks. Yet it was Curtis who had the last laugh as he floated the ball over the net with a delicate tip, which found its way between defenders to win the set.
“It’s been a fun season,” Curtis said, who led the team with 14 kills. “I’ve really connected with the team. I’ve known Trevor (Bryant) since sixth grade. I’ll remember this year forever.”
Roseville controlled much of Game 2 but was never able to pull ahead by more than three points as NU hung around and seized its opportunities to take a 12-11 lead, which it didn’t surrender. Curtis claimed the last point with a serve that ricochetted off a Tiger player then seven rows into the stands.
“I give the whole team a lot of credit,” said Marks, who finished with six kills. “Ryley (Berzins), David (Matteo), Ty (Blount) and Noah (Fisher) and played well. It was good they got in there.”
NU grabbed the lead early in the third set 3-2 and led the rest of the way. The Miners built a five-point cushion before letting it dwindle down to one, but sealed it down the stretch with kills by Greg Paul, Evan Kittle, Curtis and the dagger by Saturnino.
“I feel closer to the team this year than other teams,” said senior Bryant, who set up his teammates nicely to tally 14 assists and added seven digs defensively. “We connect well off the court. (Tonight) it was exciting to have (the subs) out there off the bench. We support them as much as they support us.”
One tactic that may or may not be attributed to the Miners’ overflowing success is a team rule that was implemented at the beginning of the season.
“Every time someone serves under the net, they owe everyone on the team doughnuts,” said Curtis. “It helps keep you on your toes. It’s just a fun thing.”
Regardless of its motivation NU (8-1 SFL) hopes to clinch the No. 1 seed for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs with a win Wednesday at Woodcreek.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call 530-477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.