PREP VOLLEYBALL: Bruins roar past Golden Sierra, advance to D-III semifinals |

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Bruins roar past Golden Sierra, advance to D-III semifinals

Bear River junior Brad Smith looks to defend a hit from Golden Sierra's Dylan Spencer during Thursday's home playoff win over the Grizzlies.
Elias Funez/

Bruins 3 Grizzlies 1

(19-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-18)

BR: Jace Rath 24 kills, 2 aces, 12 digs

BR: Noah Skowronski 14 kills, 4 aces

BR: Weston Prosser 45 assists, 10 digs

In a battle between bears, the Bruins boys volleyball team proved to be the fiercer beast, knocking off the Grizzlies in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium Thursday night.

Bear River, the No. 3 seed, overcame an early hole and surged to the finish to eliminate No. 6 Golden Sierra in four sets, 19-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-18 and advance to the semifinals.

“(Golden Sierra) came out on fire and we just made too many mistakes and they took advantage,” said Bear River head coach Jonathan Good. “A lot of the other teams I’ve coached would have quit after that first game. It was the first big game we’ve had all year so I didn’t know how they’d react, but after that we just played our ball and, honestly, really didn’t let up at all those last three games.”

The Grizzlies came out swinging and raced out to an early 5-0 lead in the first set. The Bruins cut the deficit to 15-13 and rallied again down the stretch, but came up short.

However, Bear River turned the tide in the second set and opened a 15-8 advantage, then survived a Golden Sierra surge. With the set tied 19-19, the Bruins slammed the door with a pivotal 6-3 run to even the match and steal back the momentum for good.

“I’m super pumped,” said Bear River’s lone senior Noah Skowronski, who hammered down 14 kills, served up four aces and had six digs defensively. “That was by far the best I’ve ever played and this my last home game ever… I knew it was my last and I had to show up or else I wasn’t going to have a chance at home in front of my friends and family.”

Not relinquishing any of its fire, the Bruins led wire to wire in the third set, firing across 16 kills to put the Grizzlies in a 2-1 hole.

After 10 lead changes in the fourth set and a 13-13 tie, Bear River finsihed off their opponent with a 12-5 run to punch its ticket to the next round.

Sophomore Jace Rath dominated at the net with a game-best 24 kills and added 12 digs on defense. Junior Brad Smith tallied eight kills to go with 12 digs, followed by sophomore Weston Prosser, who was brilliant finding his teammates tossing up 45 assists to go with a five kills.

“Even though we lost that first game everyone got positive, pumped up and that’s what our team does” added Good. “We pick each other up and not a single guy was down about that first game. Super proud. Happy they get to go another game.”

Bear River (24-5) will hit the road take on El Dorado in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Brian Shepard is a freelance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.

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