‘Fired up to be playing’: After long layoff, NU girls volleyball returns to action | TheUnion.com

‘Fired up to be playing’: After long layoff, NU girls volleyball returns to action

Nevada Union’s Kailee McLaughlin attempts to block a Placer volley during the Miners loss in four sets to the Hillmen Thursday evening at NU’s West gym.
Photo: Elias Funez

The journey back to competitive play for Nevada Union’s girls volleyball team has been a long one — 529 days to be exact.

“We’re fired up to be playing,” NU head coach Chrys Dudek said “They’ve been sticking with it all along. We started doing Zoom workouts back in June or July, we had an opportunity in the fall to play a little bit, we got in the gym and people were excited to be back, but we got closed down again. We moved outside, and now we’re back inside again.”

High school girls volleyball is traditionally a fall sport, but was pushed back to the spring due to COVID-19.

Nevada Union’s Kayda Kinch bumps the ball as she sets up her teammates for a play against Placer High School Thursday at home.
Photo: Elias Funez

Now that the Miners are back on the court and set to play out a truncated schedule, Dudek just wants them to enjoy the experience.

“It’s going to be short,” he said. “We just got to enjoy every moment we’re out there. Whether it’s during practice with their teammates or when we’re competing against other teams, we just want to enjoy it as much as we can. And, if we get some wins along the way, awesome.”

The Miners opened their 11-game schedule against a pair of Foothill Valley League foes this week, beating Rio Linda on Tuesday in straight sets (25-11, 25-8, 25-8) and falling to Placer in four sets (25-14, 25-16, 18-25, 25-20).

Nevada Union’s Kailee McLaughlin (9) and Dani Gil (14) attempt to block the volley from their Placer High School opponents during Thursday’s loss in four sets.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I thought it was a great start to the season,” said Dudek. “Placer is really strong. They’re huge and we just needed to adapt to that, and we started to do that in the third and fourth sets.”

It was a season ago when the Miners won 42 games and reached the 2019 Sac-Joaquin Section D-III championship match, where they fell to Central Catholic in four sets. NU returns several players from that season, including Kailee McLaughlin.

“She is just an amazing athlete,” Dudek said of McLaughlin, who earned all-league honors in 2019 and is a senior leader this season. “She can jump out of the gym and hit the ball through the floor. … She’s a great leader and a great kid.”

Nevada Union girls varsity volleyball head coach Chrys Dudek talks to his team on the sideline before taking the court for a set against rivals, the Placer Hillmen.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Miners also have strong seniors in libero Reese Werner and outside hitter Dani Gil.

“When (Werner’s) moving her feet, she’s getting to every ball and giving us sweet passes. She likes to be aggressive,” said Dudek. “(Gil’s) a great leader and she’s maximizing her strengths. She has a really strong serve.”

NU also has some talented up-and-comers in junior Kayda Kinch, junior Delaynee Dunbar and sophomore Megan Conway.

The Miners’ girls volleyball program is one of the most successful at NU, having made the playoffs each of the last five seasons and having seven Section titles (2002-2008) to its credit. But, with no playoffs this season, Dudek said the season goal is a simple one.

Nevada Union’s Kailee McLaughlin (9) and Dani Gil (14) attempt to block the volley from their Placer High School opponents during Thursday’s loss in four sets.
Photo: Elias Funez

“It’s about the camaraderie, it’s about having fun and it’s about finally getting to do what we’ve been talking about for the last 10 months,” he said. “Sure, they want to win, but we’re just out there to have fun.”

Next up for the Miners (1-1) is a road bout with Oakmont on Tuesday.


Bear River 5, Marysville 3

The Bruins won their third straight game and improved to 5-1 overall with a road victory over Marysville, 5-3, Wednesday.

Trailing 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning, Bear River rallied for three runs to pull out the win over its Pioneer Valley League foe.

Leading the way from the plate was junior Daniel Bamburg (2-for-4, three RBIs), senior Colby Lunsford (2-for-4, two stolen bases, two runs scored), junior Devin Ortiz (1-for-2, two RBIs) and junior Tyler Neuharth (2-for-4, one run scored).

Lunsford earned the win from the bump, tossing the final 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out eight.

The Bruins faced off with Lindhurst on Friday in a game that was not completed as of press time. Next week Bear River has a three-game series against Nevada Union with games on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.


Placer 71, Nevada Union 60

It’s been a busy week for the NU boys basketball team.

After a home loss to Granite Bay Monday and road defeat against Rio Linda Tuesday, the Miners closed out the week with a bout against the Placer Hillmen.

Playing at Placer, NU fell behind the Hillmen early and trailed by 15 at halftime. The Miners charged back in the second half and pulled within seven with more than 2 minutes left in the game, but got no closer and fell by nine.

Leading the Miners was junior post player Milo Gohring with 16 points, senior guard Eli Jones with 15 points and sophomore Forrest Harrison with 13.

The Miners (0-3) return to action Tuesday at home against Oakmont.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com.

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