Falcons continue playoff push | TheUnion.com

Falcons continue playoff push

Forest Lake Christian Boys volleyball team showcases talent

Sophomore Ben Meyers congratulates his fellow teammates following the conclusion of the second set. The Forest Lake Christian Falcons beat the Vacaville Christian Falcons in three straight sets Thursday night at home.
Photo: Elias Funez

For being a small school tucked away in the foothills, Forest Lake Christian has had no shortage of athletic talent.

That talent was on display Thursday evening when the No. 3 seeded Falcons topped the No. 6 seeded Vacaville Christian Falcons in three straight sets (28-26, 25-16, 25-21) during the Sac Joaquin Section Division 4 home playoff game.

Many athletes on the team are new to the sport of volleyball, and this is their first season playing competitively.

Forest Lake Christian junior Keoni Rose provides offense for the Falcons during Thursday’s playoff win over Vacaville Christian.
Photo: Elias Funez

“We got some really good kids playing,” head coach Denise Rideout said. “The funny thing about the season is only one has really played before. The rest of these guys are basketball players that have a lot of talent.”

Rideout believes that their relative newness to the sport allows the team to play stress free.

Forest Lake Christian senior David Shumaker hits a kill over the net against Vacaville Christian during Thursday’s home playoff game. Forest Lake Christian beat Vacaville in three straight sets.
Photo: Elias Funez

“They’re playing with this sort of joy,” Rideout said. “Just a bunch of yahoos.”

Leading the team is libero Jack O’Neil, a five-sport student athlete now in his senior year.

As a freshman, O’Neil was first in league. However, the next two years were stolen due to the pandemic, and according to Rideout, O’Neil started the team and wants to finish strong.

The Forest Lake Christian Falcons get out of a tight spot during this volley with the Vacaville Christian Falcons during Thursday’s home playoff game.

“He is the captain and probably the glue,” Rideout said of O’Neil, who leads the league in stats for digs, serves and receives.

Other standouts on the team include outside hitter Luke Stokes, who has the highest kills on the team, and middle blocker Dave Shumaker, who leads in blocks.

Forest Lake Christian will now move on to play at John Adams Academy of Sacramento at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Forest Lake Christian senior Nathan Blackburn watches as he hits the ball between a pair of Vacaville Christian players during Thursday evening’s home playoff win.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I think it’s going to be a battle,” Rideout said of their next matchup against the Patriots. “Definitely going in there knowing we’re going to be playing a hard team. If they can play like they played (Thursday) night, it’ll be a good game.”

Forest Lake Christian senior David Shumaker, right, looks to receive a serve from Vacaville Christian during Thursday’s second round playoff win.
Photo: Elias Funez


Forest Lake Christian’s tennis teams are also performing well, with Rick Byers winning singles men’s league in the PVL and Parker Byers and Jack O’Neil taking the men’s doubles in the PVL.

On Thursday, the tennis team as a whole won its first round of the playoffs against Sacramento Country Day.

The golf team also won the Central Valley California League title this year and remained undefeated.

Leading the golf team is Jacob Klein, followed by Nathan Blackburn.

Girls soccer also recently won its league, with Mary Stewart as a strong leader of the team along with Eden Whaley and Sammie Hayworth at goal.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230

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