Prep volleyball: Miners finish 2nd in league, earn home playoff game
The Sac-Joaquin Section girls volleyball playoffs get rolling this week, and the Miners are once again invited to the party.
Nevada Union has now made the playoffs in six straight seasons in which playoffs were featured (2021 spring season did not have playoffs). At the helm of each of those playoff teams has been head coach Chrys Dudek, who said he likes his team’s chances at making another deep run.
“I’m hoping that we’re peaking at the right point, and that we’re pulling everything together and going into the playoffs feeling confident and strong,” said Dudek.
Coaching side by side with Dudek this season has been co-head coach Lex Olsen, an NU alumna who was on multiple section title winning teams during her playing days.
Together Olsen and Dudek led the Miners to an 18-19 overall record and a 9-3 mark in Foothill Valley League play this season, good enough for a second-place tie with Ponderosa (13-10, 9-3 FVL). Lincoln (25-2, 12-0 FVL) claimed the FVL banner.
The Miners enter the playoffs having won five of their last seven matches, and will get the first one at home. Nevada Union is the No. 7 seed in the Section’s Division 3 bracket and will host No. 10 El Dorado on Tuesday.
Dudek said the Miners’ defense and multi-pronged attack is what makes them a contender.
“I’m hoping that our defense really starts to shine through,” said Dudek, “and we can frustrate teams by digging a ball and keeping it in play, and that we can show patience and when the time is right, put it down to the floor.”
Nevada Union has been led this season by senior captains Delaynee Dunbar, Dani Tagg and Rio Kane.
Dunbar, a three-year varsity player, is one of NU’s go-to hitters and someone Dudek said he can count on.
“Her presence on the court is really calming for our team,” Dudek said. “She has a confidence about her, where she never really panics. … She’s probably our most consistent hitter.”
Kane plays libero for the Miners and does her job so well, Dudek said he regularly hears opposing coaches complimenting her play.
“She’s a perfectionist, her serve-receive is just dynamite and her passing is amazing,” Dudek said of Kane. “She can get balls that look like they’re going to be hitting the floor and she gets a hand or two on it and keeps us in the play, and gets us a point in the long run.”
Dudek said when it comes to Tagg, it’s her athleticism that stands out.
“Her athleticism really shines through,” he said. “She’s really fast. And, her serve and hitting are getting more consistent.”
The Miners also have talented players in setters A.J. King and Megan Hundemer, middle block Megan Conway, and middle hitters Mina Mason, Kaeli Horn and Koya Porter.
“She is a fire cracker,” Dudek said of Porter. “Holy cow, can she hit the ball hard. Her intensity is really helpful at times. When she gets on top of a ball, look out, because she’s putting splinters on the floor.”
VOLLEYBALL IS STRONG IN THE FOOTHILLS
The Miners will also be joined in the playoffs by fellow foothill schools Bear River, Colfax and Forest Lake Christian.
The Bear River Bruins (26-9, 10-0 Pioneer Valley League) are the No. 4 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 bracket. The Bruins enter the playoffs having won 11 of their last 14 matches and will host No. 13 Leroy Greene Academy (8-6, 7-2 Northern Pacific Athletic Conference), out of Sacramento, in the first round. The match is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bear River’s Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium.
Colfax (13-7, 8-2 PVL) is the No. 9 seed in the Division 4 bracket and will travel to face No. 8 Dixon (18-6, 8-2 Golden Empire League) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Forest Lake Christian (18-12, 14-2 Central Valley California League) is the No. 3 seed in Division 6 and will host No. 6 seed Alpha Charter at 7 p.m. Thursday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Nevada Union Boys Varsity Soccer team kicked off their season with a non-league home bout against Lindhurst last Friday night under the lights at Hooper Stadium.