Bear River tops Cardinal Newman, advances to Norcal semifinals |

Bear River tops Cardinal Newman, advances to Norcal semifinals

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

The Bear River girls volleyball team simply refuses to call it a season

In front of a raucous crowd Tuesday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium the Lady Bruins won their 10th straight match defeating Cardinal Newman in four sets, 20-25, 25-16, 30-28, 25-20, to continue their run at state title.

“There was a big feeling of relief after we won the section title, and now I think its kind of like we are playing with house money a little bit,” Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald said after the game. “We are enjoying each day we get to be with each other and just trying to take it a day at a time.”

With the win, Bear River (31-12) advances to the CIF Division IV Norcal Semifinals Saturday and will face No. 1 seeded Sacred Heart Prep.

Bear River trailed in all four sets Tuesday night, but time after time showed its resiliency by storming back to take the momentum and lead from the Cardinals.

In the first set, Cardinal Newman looked to be the more prepared team as they capitalized on Lady Bruin errors and fed the ball to its star player Emily Papale.

The lanky hitter battered the Lady Bruins all night with her fierce spike tempered with well placed tips to open spots on the Bear River side of the net.

“A lot of it was unforced errors in the first set,” MacDonald said. “But, they had tip kills, and (Papale), we were so ready for her to just crush the heck out of the ball, and she kind of started out with some of those off-speed shots. And, with us on the back of our heels waiting for her to crush it, she was able to get those tip kills. We had to adjust there.”

After dropping the first set 25-20, Bear River made its adjustments and looked like a different team in the second set.

The Lady Bruins trailed early in the second, but grabbed a 7-6 lead and never looked back getting kills from Teryn Rath, Kirsten Pereira and Sara Schell on their way to a 25-16 victory.

Schell led the Lady Bruins with 25 kills, Rath was second on the team with 14 and Pereira added 13 kills. Senior setter Kaya Johnson was on point most of the night setting the table for the Bear River hitters with 54 assists.

“We really emphasize staying poised and staying together as a family,” Rath said. “I think that has really shown through the last three games.”

The third set was an incredible battle as both teams fought desperately to take the 2-1 set advantage. After trailing 15-9, Bear River rallied back to take a 20-19 lead. The teams would trade points back and forth never allowing the other to close the set out. Papale eventually put the Cardinals up 28-27 with a tip kill to the end line. Bear River answered the call. After a Cardinal error tied the set, a Lady Bruin block gave them the 29-28 advantage and Schell closed it out with a deep tip kill of her own.

“We have faced a ton of adversity,” MacDonald said. “Especially in that third set and we just chipped away and took it one point at time.”

In the fourth and final set, Bear River fell behind 16-12, but reeled of a 13-4 run behind kills from Amanda Clark, Schell and Rath to give them the set and victory.

Bear River’s Haley Brown was instrumental in the victory coming up with 18 digs on the night, many of which thwarted attacks from the power hitting Papale.

Bear River is 10-1 at home this season but will hit the road for the next round of the playoffs taking on Sacred Heart Prep at 7 p.m. Saturday in Atherton, Calif.

To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at

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