PREP VOLLEYBALL: Miners land No. 3 seed in Division I playoffs
Know & GO
What: Sac-Joaquin Section DI volleyball playoffs
Who: No. 3 Nevada Union vs. No. 14 Davis
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Albert Ali Gymnasium, Nevada Union High School
The Miners’ path through the playoffs starts at home.
The Sac-Joaquin Section boys volleyball playoff brackets were released Friday and Nevada Union landed the No. 3 seed in Division I.
“I feel like the season is just beginning,” senior setter Sam Hales said at a practice Tuesday. “I want the playoffs to last as long as possible…We’re not burned out at all. There’s still plenty of gas in the tank, and hopefully we can take that into the playoffs and have a nice long run.”
The Miners open the playoffs Tuesday when they host the Davis Blue Devils at 7 p.m. at Albert Ali Gymnasium.
The Blue Devils (7-16-1) are the No. 14 seed after placing fourth in the Delta League.
Nevada Union and Davis faced off at the UC Davis Aggie Classic earlier this season with the Miners winning in three sets, 25-21, 21-25, 16-14.
If the Miners get past Davis, they would have a quarterfinal matchup at home Thursday with the winner of the No. 6 Elk Grove vs. No. 11 Ponderosa first round bout.
For the Miners, this is the sixth year in a row in which they have made the playoffs, and third straight under head coach Lance Mansuetti.
Nevada Union comes into the playoffs on the heels of an impressive regular season in which it went 29-4 overall, claimed multiple tourney titles and won the Sierra Foothill League title outright with an 11-1 league record.
Leading the Miners into the playoffs are seniors Nick Ashbaugh and Hales. Ashbaugh heads a deep group of NU hitters and blockers which includes Jordan Mills, Preston Nowak, Tanner Quiggle and Ibrahim Torkman.
Hales, along with fellow setter Trevor Johnson, have done a masterful job this season of spreading the ball around to NU’s many offensive weapons.
“A big part of a mature setter is running an effective offense and keeping the defense off balanced,” Mansuetti said. “A good setter makes the hitters job easier and (Hales) does that really well.”
The Miners have participated in the postseason in eight of the last nine years, reaching the section title game three times in that span. The Miners’ last trip to the title game was 2014.
A season ago, the Miners lost to eventual champ Roseville in the semifinals. Roseville is the No. 1 seed in this year’s bracket.
“We need to play smart, play with confidence and be ready for anything,” said Ashbaugh of how the Miners need to approach the playoffs. “We just need to keep working and keep improving.”
The reigning SFL champion Miners are joined in the playoffs by several of their league foes. Granite Bay (24-11, 0-3 SFL) is the No. 4 seed in the DI bracket and will face No. 13 Laguna Creek Tuesday. Woodreek (14-8, 9-3 SFL), which tied Granite Bay for second place in the SFL, is the No. 7 seed in DI and will host No. 10 Kennedy on Tuesday. Del Oro (9-10, 7-5 SFL) placed fourth in the SFL and landed the No. 7 seed in the DII bracket. The Golden Eagles will face No. 10 Rio Linda Tuesday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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