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Bear River sweeps Los Banos, moves onto section semifinals

Bear River's Kaely Rath fires one across the net during a second-round playoff game against Los Banos Thursday at Jack R. McCrory gymnasium.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Lady Bruins 3, Tigers 0

Bear River 25 25 25 3

Los Banos 20 19 17 0

BR: Kirsten Pereira 18 kills

BR: Teryn Rath 14 kills

BR: Hannah Christianson 15 digs

BR: Brook Hajewski 3 aces

Bear River even surprised itself Thursday night on the way to a straight-set victory over the visiting Los Banos Lady Tigers.

“We weren’t expecting to come out and play like that,” said senior outside hitter Kirsten Pereira. “But once we got out there, it just kind of flowed.”

The onslaught was relentless, and the Lady Bruins dominated each set of the second-round playoff match, winning 25-20, 25-19, 25-17.



Never closer than a 3-3 tie in the first set, Bear River did not trail once all night and seemed to get stronger as the match wore on.

“We really took it up a notch tonight,” said Pereira. “We’ve been playing more together and better lately, but this is the best we’ve played so far.”




It is the right time for the girls to be peaking, as Thursday’s win propels the defending section champions into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals.

This is the fourth straight year the Bear River girls have been among the last four teams standing in the section, and for a team that is heavy on young talent, the squad will rely on its handful of seniors who have been here before to show the way, said head coach Matt MacDonald.

“We have two girls who have been through this all four years,” said MacDonald. “They lead us. They know what to expect.”

Along with Pereira, Teryn Rath was the other freshman on that surprising 2010 team that made it to the semifinals before getting bounced in straight sets by Ripon.

On Thursday, Pereira and Rath fulfilled their leadership roles to the letter as Pereira finished with a team-high 18 kills, while Rath brought down 14. But the team’s underclassmen showed up to play, as well, with freshman Ashley Albee scoring five kills and sophomore Kaely Rath knocking down six. Fellow sophomore Brook Hajewski led the team’s strong service game with three aces.

As flashy as the team’s punishing offense was, however, it was the defense that kept the Lady Tigers at bay all night long.

Los Banos came into the match with a perfect league record, having won 11 of its last 12, but once Bear River grabbed the lead, its strong ball control and solid serve and pass game prevented the Lady Tigers from putting anything together on offense.

“Defensively, it was one of our best matches,” said MacDonald. “If we can play defense like that, it picks up every other part of the game. We know our offense can be strong — and we were aggressive again tonight — and our defense has been good, but tonight, we took it to another level.”

Senior libero Hannah Christianson was all over the court, topping the defense with 15 digs. The whole squad held strong in the back court and played well enough at the net to hold off the taller Lady Tigers.

In first two rounds, the Lady Bruins have not dropped a set, also beating Marysville 3-0 Tuesday. With all the momentum on their side, the team will travel to No. 2 seed Hilmar for the semifinals Nov. 19. Hilmar took down Ripon Christian 3-1 Thursday.

“We’re just building momentum, raising the bar higher and higher,” said Pereira.

“We want to keep that momentum going into practice and going into the next game.”

To contact Sports Writer Anthony Barstow, email abarstow@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.


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