Bear River rips PVL rival Placer to close regular season |

Bear River rips PVL rival Placer to close regular season

Bear River's Lily Morgado and Kaely Rath go up to block Placer's Kapri Pelle during a game Thursday at Bear River. The Lady Bruins won in four sets.
John Hart/ | The Union

The Bear River girls volleyball team won’t win the Pioneer Valley League this season, but knocking off league champ and rival Placer to close the regular season is a nice consolation.

The Lady Bruins (18-10, 8-2 PVL), who have not lost a league game on their home court since 2010, beat the Hillgals (14-11, 9-1 PVL) in four sets, 25-11, 26-24, 19-25, 25-19, Thursday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.

“It feels sweet,” Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald said. “We made a mistake the first time we played them. We didn’t really go after their big hitters, Raquel (Quirarte) and Kapri (Pelle), we didn’t serve at them, we tried to stay away from them, but tonight we said ‘if we want to give ourselves a chance we have to go at them. Serve at them, make them play every ball,’ and our girls did that flawlessly. They stayed tough and executed it perfectly”

Junior captain Kaely Rath led the Lady Bruins with 20 kills, many of which came in the fourth and final set.

Rath led the fourth set off with a powerful kill that set the tone as Bear River raced to a 9-3 advantage. Placer responded with a 9-1 run to take a 12-10 lead, but the Lady Bruins would not be denied. Bear River got several kills from Rath down the stretch to go with two aces from Brooke Hakewski and another ace from Lily Morgado as they went on a 15-7 tear to end the set.

Hajewski would finish with five aces on the night to go with a team-high 12 digs. Morgado added four kills and tallied four aces on the night. Bear River’s Ashley Albee was also instrumental in the victory and finished with 12 kills and seven digs. The sophomore showed her versatility with several power kills mixed in with well placed tip kills. Setting the Lady Bruins all night was Melanie Jenkins, closing the evening with 33 assists.

“Placer is such a good team and it feels so good to be able to beat them on our home court,” said Rath.

The Lady Bruins jumped all over Placer early, winning the first set easily, 25-11. The second set was much closer as the two PVL titans battle to a 26-24 final in Bear River’s favor. In the second set, Rath scored Bear River’s final three points with a variety of kills. On set point, Rath had a kill attempt blocked right back to her and she alertly tipped it back over the net to an empty spot in Placer’s defense, a diving Hillgal got a hand on it, but it then fell to the floor and the Lady Bruins took a two set advantage.

“They go at it,” MacDonald said of Placer. “They go hard, they have lots of hitters, they serve tough and we have to match that, and the first time we played them I don’t feel like we did that. But, tonight we did and it payed off.”

The Hillgals did take the third set, leading wire-to-wire and winning 25-19. They couldn’t hold the momentum though as Bear River, spurred on by a boisterous student section, took the fourth set, handing Placer its only league loss of the season. The win for Bear River earns them second place, and keeps Colfax in third with a 7-3 league record.

“It solidifies our playoff seed,” said MacDonald. “Hopefully we get a three-seed like we did last year with an 8-2 record. It also gives a boost of confidence, which is important because every team we play from here on out will be phenomenal. We need to match the intensity we had tonight.”

Bear River will now await the Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV playoff brackets to see who they take on next. Playoffs get started Nov. 6.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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