The Nevada Union boys volleyball team is heading back to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship for the first time since 2009 after taking down Del Oro in four sets, 25-10, 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, Tuesday at Albert Ali Gymnasium.
“We’re peaking big time,” NU head coach Marco Salcedo said. “Its taken us the whole year to figure out what our game plan is, and what we need to do, and were finally doing it.”
The Miners’ game plan looked flawless in the first set against Del Oro, a team that has pushed NU to five sets twice this season, but lost both matches.
Nevada Union looked to make short work of the Golden Eagles Tuesday night, jumping out to 17-2 lead in the opening set as a nearly full Albert Ali Gymnasium roared with every point.
NU senior Trevor Bryant tallied eight straight service points as NU took a 9-0 lead then kills from Lucas Vojak, Bobby Curtis, Greg Paul and Austin Marks kept the Golden Eagles reeling. NU would eventually take Game 1 25-10.
“Today we established the middle early on and that allowed us to excel later on,” Paul said. “We haven’t played this well all season and we are hitting our peak right now.”
Paul finished the night with six kills, Vojak led the team with 11 kills, Marks added seven and Curtis closed with 10 kills, three blocks and three aces.
In Game 2, Del Oro regained its footing and gave NU trouble, going back and forth as both teams struggled to put together a sustained scoring run.
With Game 2 knotted at 19, NU got kills from Bryant and Curtis and a block by Vojak to grab the edge and eventually the set at 25-22.
In Game 3, Del Oro grabbed an early 7-3 advantage, but NU chipped away at the lead with kills from Paul, Vojak and Curtis, all set nicely by Bryant, to pull even at 17. NU would never grab the lead though and eventually dropped the set 25-23.
Bryant finished the night with 18 assists to go with three aces.
“It’s talking, when we talk we have energy,” NU’s Evan Kittle said. “When we don’t talk, we get down. We are an energy driven team, we need to maintain that intensity from the first game.”
In Game 4, it was another battle as Del Oro clung to their last shred of a hope. The Golden Eagles kept pace with the Miners and tied things at 18 on a controversial point that spurred some emotion from Salcedo. On the play, It appeared a Del Oro player had touched the ball twice in his set attempt but no call was made and the Golden Eagles eventually took the point.
Undeterred by the unfavorable call, NU took care of business. The Miners ran off seven straight points, including kills from Bryant and Curtis with the final point being driven down by Marks.
“(Del Oro) is here for a reason,” Salcedo said. “We knew that, and we battled through that second game. We were right there on that third game, knocking on the door. We went away from our game plan a little and that was the difference, but we came back to our game plan in the fourth and ran away with it towards the end.”
The Miners (29-7) will now head to Monterey Trail High School Thursday to take on the winner of the Granite Bay versus Jesuit semifinal.
No matter who the Miners face, Salcedo said his team will be ready.
“I want to win the section championship,” Salcedo said.
“Granite Bay would be great in some sense because I want to get that payback. Jesuit — we match up with a little better because they can’t stop us in the middle. But, either one we’re ready.”
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