PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Miners dig into league play |

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Miners dig into league play

Nevada Union's varsity volleyball team celebrates after a point during a non-league game against El Dorado at Albert Ali Gym Sept.6. The Lady Miners opened Sierra Foothill League play Monday with a four-set victory over Folsom.
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

The Lady Miners were knocked back a bit Monday night, dropping the first set, 25-14, to Sierra Foothill League combatant Folsom. But, the Nevada Union girls volleyball team locked in and blew past the Bulldogs in four sets, 14-25, 25-16, 25-9, 25-18.

And just like that, the SFL season has begun.

After a 2015 season that saw Nevada Union return to the playoffs, the Lady Miners entered league play after going 8-9 in non-league and tourney play.

“Our goal is to continue to get better and better,” said head coach Chrys Dudek, who coached the Lady Miners to the 2008 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title, and is now in his second year at the helm since returning in 2015.

“We added a lot more non-league games and a couple more tournaments just to get more experience. Our goal is to continue to grow. This season we have a lot of seniors. We’ve got a real strong foundation. They are great kids. They work hard, and we have a strong front row when they are on.”

Leading the Lady Miners this season is junior outside hitter Regan Heppe, who had 10 kills in the win over Folsom.

Outside hitter Celeste Picone has also proven to be a force for the Lady Miners, scoring 11 kills and notching four aces in the win over Folsom.

“Celeste can put the ball anywhere on the court,” Dudek said of the senior hitter.

Dudek said he likes the fire power his team possesses this season and setters Alex Cook and Kelsey Arvidson have done a nice job of putting NU’s hitters in position to score.

“Alex (Cook) and Kelsey (Arvidson) have been really strong as our setters. They are really consistent,” he said.

Arvidson led the Lady Miners with 34 assists in the victory over Folsom.

Nevada Union middles Greta Kramer, Taylor Johnston, Hannah Voboril and Danica Minard, as well as defensive specialists Lauren Engelking, Eliza Hales, Maddy Rossitto and Zoey Bell will also play pivotal roles for the Lady Miners this season, said Dudek.

“Our deep bench,” Dudek noted as one of his team’s strengths. “Our practices and scrimmages are just as tough as some of the matches we are going to play. We are deep and they get along with each other, which is nice.”

In addition to being deep, the Lady Miners are tough and have a never give up attitude, said Dudek.

“They are a resilient team. We can make comebacks,” he said. “We can start low and come back and play to the last point. It would be nice if they would turn it on a little sooner, but we are not afraid to just go for it, no matter what the score is. We don’t break down. We just continue to work.”

That resiliency will come in handy as the Lady Miners dig into their SFL slate, which includes powerhouse programs Oak Ridge and Granite Bay, which won the 2015 Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championship. Rocklin and Del Oro were also playoff teams a season ago.

The SFL is so competitive that five playoff spots are allotted to the seven team division.

“Oak Ridge is always strong. They are one of the top teams. Granite Bay is tough. Rocklin is tough. They are all tough,” said Dudek. “We are going to continue to work on our discipline and if we can take them out of their system with aggressive serves then our defense can hopefully shut them down. And, if they roll one over on us, then we can put our offense on them.”

Dudek boasted about his teams serving ability earlier this season, and Folsom found out first hand Monday when the Miners scored 10 aces against them.

“When our serving is on, we are unstoppable to other teams,” Dudek said.

Dudek also said NU’s volleyball program is strong top to bottom. The junior varsity and freshmen teams also beat Folsom Monday, and both teams had strong showings at weekend tournaments.

The Lady Miners (9-9, 1-0 SFL) get back to SFL action today when they travel to face Granite Bay.

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

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