PREP VOLLEYBALL: Miners rise above Carmel, advance to NorCal Division II semifinals
Special to The Union
MINERS 3, PADRES 1
(25-18, 21-25, 25-13, 25-17)
NU: Preston Nowak - 12 kills
NU: Carter Depue - 6 kills, 9 blocks
NU: Judah Myers - 7 kills, 10 digs
NU: Jordan Mills - 7 kills
NU: Colby Quiggle - 28 assists, 7 digs
The Miners are moving on.
Nevada Union’s boys volleyball team was victorious over the Carmel Padres in their NorCal Division II first round playoff match, winning in four sets 25-18, 21-25, 25-13, 25-17.
The No. 3 seed Miners rode the momentum of a packed home crowd at Albert Ali Gymnasium to a dazzling victory punctuated by powerful kills, stifling blocks and sound defensive play.
Nevada Union opened the match in complete control, winning the first set 25-18 despite a late Carmel run. As would become a theme throughout the game, the Miners seized the momentum early with a series of kills that brought the crowd to its feet and filled the gym with electric energy and goosebump-inducing noise. Carmel made a late run on the strength of strong serving but ultimately couldn’t overwhelm the Miners triple block; this, too, would prove to be a decisive theme in the match.
Nevada Union head coach Lance Mansuetti spoke to the importance of the unique blocking formation the Miners run to his team’s success.
“Not a lot of high school coaches implement it,” said Mansuetti, “so a lot of these teams haven’t seen a triple block and they can hit that sharp angle but then there’s another blocker there and it throws them for a loop; they’re not sure what to do.”
As a team, the Miners tallied 23 blocks, one shy of their season high.
Despite the effectiveness of the Miners’ blocking, No. 6 Carmel managed to steal the second set by capitalizing on errors by the Miners and some fierce hitting of their own. The Padres service game in particular seemed to be a problem for the Miners in the second set, and Carmel won the set 25-21, evening the match at a set apiece.
Miners junior setter Colby Quiggle attributed the dropped second set to unforced errors and a drop in otherwise high energy play from his team.
“Second set we lost our intensity a little bit, but third set we got it back. Once we knew we had that intensity, we knew we could close them out.”
He was right. The Miners came out as a team on a mission in the third set, and after an initially back and forth battle, absolutely decimated the Padres. With the set tied at seven, the Miners went on a 5-0 run to force a Padres timeout at 12-7. The run was punctuated with a massive block from the Miners front line that once again got the crowd to its feet. From there, the Miners didn’t look back, winning the third set 25-13 and irrevocably shifting the momentum in the match.
The packed home crowd proved to be a significant force in the match, filling the gym with constant chants and cheers, and emphasizing every big play with thunderous roars. The energy of the supporters wasn’t lost on the Miners.
“Volleyball’s a game of runs and it’s a game of momentum, and to have all that energy behind you, you feed off of it,” said Mansuetti.
Senior middle hitter Carter Depue, who was responsible for more than a few of the crowd-energizing moments in the match, was grateful for the crowd’s role.
“It’s really exciting, it gives us a lot of energy and makes us play better; hit harder, jump higher, everything,” said Depue, who finished with six kills and nine blocks on the night.
After opening the decisive fourth set on a 6-1 run, then extending the lead to 15-4, it seemed the match was all but over. Carmel refused to surrender, however, and after a couple of mistakes from the home team and some crafty defense by the Padres, the lead had shrunk to five with NU up 17-12. The Miners would not be denied, however. The crowd crescendoed to a fever pitch with every powerful kill, suffocating block and stunning dig, and the Miners closed it out, 25-17 to win the match.
Mansuetti offered glowing praise for his setter Quiggle in leading the Miners to the win.
“Colby’s very strategic, he’s got a strategic mind and he’s very intelligent; he’s exactly what you want as a setter,” said Mansuetti.
Quiggle set the tone for his team the entire night, and finished the match with 28 assists and seven digs, adding one kill on a clever dump play for good measure.
Junior hitter Preston Nowak tallied a team-high 12 kills to go with five blocks in the win. Senior Jordan Mills and junior Judah Myers each added seven kills and five blocks.
As for what comes next, Mansuetti is optimistic about his team’s chances in the rest of the playoffs.
“When we saw the bracket for NorCal we realized we could win that, and we were excited for the opportunity and felt we could make some noise,” said Mansuetti. “My hope is just that we play our best volleyball. I think if we play our best volleyball we’ll walk away feeling good about it and we’ll give ourselves a good chance.”
Next up for the Miners (29-2) is a semifinal clash at No. 2 Serra High School (San Mateo) at 6 p.m. today.
Kael Newton is a Nevada County native and freelance journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KaelNewton on Twitter.
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