Clash of the Champions |

Clash of the Champions

Nevada Union’s defending Division I Northern California champion volleyball team came this close to picking up its first defeat of the season Tuesday night inside a sweltering NU West Gymnasium.

Golden Sierra, the defending D-IV champ, had the Miners on the ropes with a two games to one lead, and toed the line to serve up the match point at 24-22 in game four.

Any doubts Coach?

“Well, hell yes!” NU head coach Bob Rogers said with a quick laugh, just minutes after his Miners had pulled off a comeback worthy of such a championship caliber contest.

Nevada Union (2-0) sent Golden Sierra (2-2) back to Garden Valley with a frustrating defeat: 19-25, 25-20, 19-25, 28-26, 15-10

“We made some stupid plays at the end of game four,” Golden Sierra skipper Jeff Deter said. “But Ali (Daley) is pretty much how they beat us.”

Daley, Nevada Union’s senior sledgehammer, racked up 35 kills on the night, but the Long Beach State signee was most impressive in her resolve to not allow her team to lose in game four. It was Daley who lifted the Miners from the mire of a 24-22 match-point situation, hammering home three kills and adding a stuff block.

It was also Daley who did the most damage for the Miners in game two, having her thunderous right hand in 14 of NU’s 25 points, including eight kills and two aces behind the service line.

“You’re going to see a 50-kill night out of her at some point,” Rogers said.

Daley wasn’t exactly a solo act, though. Stephanie Bayne, a junior, also came up big at the end, scoring five of her nine kills in the final two games. She also served up back-to-back aces which brought NU to game point, 14-9, in the fifth and deciding game. Senior Julie Wivholm also added five kills in the win for the Miners.

Golden Sierra, led by the gritty play of Melissa Granville, had a long bus ride home after the game, especially considering how close the Grizzlies came to knocking off the D-I defending champ. But Deter said his D-IV team wouldn’t be scratching this up as any moral victory.

“We don’t believe in that D-I, D-IV crap,” Deter said. “We’re always among the top teams.”

Rogers and assistant coach Larry Peterson agreed.

“This is one of the better teams we’ll play,” Peterson said. “There aren’t too many out there better than them. They beat Roseville (3-2 on Aug. 31) and Roseville is the top-seeded team in the (Reno) tournament we’re playing in this weekend. So maybe this means we should be in the hunt for the tourney.”

Rogers said if the Miners do make a run at winning the 36-team tournament, it will be because of improved serve-receive from his squad. Tuesday’s showing didn’t cut it in that area, he said.

“Last week (in a win over Union Mine), they aced us four times and tonight they aced us 12 times,” Rogers said. “I just thought our serve-receive wasn’t anywhere near what it was in the match last week.

“But we got pretty scrappy toward the end. Scrappy used to have a negative connotation to us.”

“Yeah,” Peterson interjected, “it meant that you weren’t that good.”

“But now,” Rogers said with a smile, “we like it.”

Nevada Union’s junior varsity team fell in three games to Golden Sierra Tuesday, 25-20, 12-25, 12-15.

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