PREP VOLLEYBALL: Bear River crushes Pioneer, remains undefeated in league play
Time after time Jace Rath rose above the net and hammered down the volleyball with such power the defense was left frozen and at a loss as how to defend the sophomore’s on-court assault.
When Rath wasn’t rocketing down a kill for Bear River, it was Brad Smith or Matt Whiting or Noah Skowronski or Jon Rice.
With skillful passing from Weston Prosser setting up the Bruins’ multiple big hitters, there was little doubt who was the better team on the floor at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium Tuesday afternoon.
The Bruins crushed Golden Empire League foe Pioneer, winning in straight sets, 25-13, 25-10, 25-7, to remain unbeaten in league play.
The Patriots from Pioneer (1-8, 0-4 GEL) had little to no chance against the Bruins (14-5, 5-0) who boast an abundance of talent and have approached the season hungry for a playoff berth after a disappointing ending to last year’s campaign.
“We came out of last year fired up and ready,” said Rath, who had 12 kills and 12 aces in the win over Pioneer. “Last year we were right in it for playoffs but didn’t quite get there.”
Rath is part of a core group of players back this season who have the Bruins eyeing not only a playoff berth, but a league title and a run at a section championship.
“We have the ability to do something that we haven’t done since 2001 which is go undefeated in league, and do something we’ve never done ever which is win a section title for boys,” said head coach Jon Good, who played on the 2001 Bear River team.
Good credits the team’s hot start to their chemistry on and off the court.
“From day one they all got along,” he said. “Usually it takes a team a little while to gel, but they get along great. There’s no drama.”
The team is led by Rath, a sophomore who was an all-league first teamer a season ago and leads the Bruins in kills and aces.
“He’s one of the best passers, hitters and servers on the court at any given time,” said Good. “No matter where he is, front row or back row, he can side out almost at will. Having that is a huge weapon.”
The Bruins also have skilled hitters in Smith, Skowronski, Whiting and Rice.
Running the offense is Prosser, a sophomore in his second year with the varsity squad. Prosser leads the team and Sac-Joaquin Section in assists with 333, including 17 in the win over Pioneer.
“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team,” Good said of Prosser. “He’s always wanting to get better. He always tries hard and is always encouraging his teammates to get better.”
Defensively, the Bruins are anchored by junior libero Joe Guerra, who leads the team digs and serves received.
“He’s always the last one here, always getting the other guys better,” Good said of Guerra.
The Bruins currently sit atop the GEL Standings, a game ahead of Mira Loma (11-8, 4-1) and Mesa Verde (9-8, 4-1), both of which Bear River beat. The Bruins have been dominant in league play, having dropped only one set so far this season.
Almost at the halfway point of league play, Rath knows his team needs to remain locked in if they hope to achieve their goals.
“It will take hard work,” he said. “We need to stay focused and really pay attention to our goals. Our goal is to keep this winning streak going, make playoffs and win in the playoffs.”
Next up for the Bruins is a road match at GEL foe Dixon (3-4, 3-2) today, which concludes the first half of league play.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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