PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Bruins off to undefeated start |

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Bruins off to undefeated start

The Lady Bruins have been very busy this week. They’ve also been very successful.

Bear River’s girls volleyball team played four matches in four days this week and when all was said and done, its undefeated record was still intact.

“We’re doing pretty well so far,” said Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald. “We have been busy. We really loaded up that schedule. We had four in a row this week and we’re going next Tuesday and Thursday and then a tournament next Saturday. A lot of games early on, but it’s good for us.”

The Lady Bruins beat Casa Roble at home on Thursday, knocked off Dixon on the road on Wednesday, bested Capital Christian on Tuesday and topped Forest Lake Christian in a Foundation Game on Monday. Add all those wins to their season opening victory over Western Sierra on Aug. 23 and the Lady Bruins are off to a 5-0 start to the season.

“The big thing for us is the cohesion,” said MacDonald. “All that work we did in the offseason this year has paid off and were having a really good experience so far.”

A season ago, the Lady Bruins went 17-10 overall, finished second in the Pioneer Valley League with an 8-2 mark and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.

They graduated 2018 league MVP Callie Bickmore and All-PVL selection Caitlin McLaughlin, but return all leaguers in Bella Thornbury and Julie Bristol.

This season’s early run of success has not come without adversity. Thornbury, the team’s lone senior captain and starting setter, suffered an injury against Forest Lake Christian and is expected to be out at least four weeks.

“That was pretty emotionally devastating,” MacDonald said of losing Thornbury to injury. “She’s dynamic, she’s a leader and hopefully when she returns she will be that all league player for us again.”

The Lady Bruins are a talented and balanced bunch, though, and that has served them well early on.

In Tuesday’s four set win over Capital Christian, Sydney Franks and Gracie Terrell each tallied 12 kills, Kerynn Smith added eight kills and Faith Phillips notched seven kills. Ashley Ray stepped into the setter role and ran the offense well with 41 assists.

Facing Dixon on Wednesday, it was Terrell with 10 kills, Franks with nine, Smith with eight and Summer Huntley with five kills. Ray doled out 38 assists and tallied five aces.

In Thursday’s victory over Casa Roble, it was Smith leading the way with nine kills. Franks followed with seven kills, Huntley tallied six and Terrell added five. Ray notched 35 assists and six aces. Bristol, the team’s libero, chipped in with four aces.

“That’s one of the differences this year for us, we have a lot more balance,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald also noted the team has developed three pillars they want to stand for and embody season — sacrifice, positivity and mental toughness.

“Our definition of mental toughness is performing your best when it’s hard to do,” said MacDonald. “And that could be when your senior captain gets injured, or when you got a big lead, or when you’re down to a team or you’re playing a school that’s bigger than you. And, the kids are just believing in that. It’s one of those years where you can just tell, it’s going to be easy to coach this group because they are committed to studying film and they’re committed to the process. They’re just trying to get better. We’re going to be tested over the next month without Bella, but I think we’ll be ready to roll.”

Next up for the Lady Bruins is a road match at Union Mine at 6 p.m. Tuesday. They are back at home Thursday for a 7 p.m. bout with Durham.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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