PREP VOLLEYBALL: Miners rise above Golden Valley, advance to Section title game (PHOTO GALLERY)
Miners 3, COUGARS 1
(23-25, 25-14, 25-8, 25-15)
NU: Preston Nowak - 14 kills, 11 digs, 7 blocks
NU: Jordan Mills - 11 kills, 8 digs, 2 blocks
NU: Carter Depue - 10 kills, 8 blocks
NU: Cameron Dallago - 10 kills, 2 blocks
NU: Colby Quiggle - 44 assists, 2 kills
It took a game for the top seeded Miners to get going, but once they found their stride there was little the visiting Cougars could do to stop them.
Competing in the friendly confines of Albert Ali Gymnasium and in front of a raucous home crowd Tuesday night, Nevada Union’s boys volleyball team dropped the first set, but then reeled off three straight wins to beat No. 4 Golden Valley 23-25, 25-14, 25-8, 25-15 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.
“Feels amazing,” NU senior outside hitter Jordan Mills said of advancing to Saturday’s championship game. “It’s my first time going and I’m just excited to have the opportunity.”
Teammate and fellow senior Cameron Dallago, added “Oh, it feels great. Nothing like it.”
Dallago provided a big lift for the Miners in the second game, helping NU grab the momentum back after losing the first.
“Cameron had a monster game,” said NU head coach Lance Mansuetti, who has the Miners heading to a Section title game for the first time since taking over the program in 2016. “Cameron played really well, and I’m proud of Colby (Quiggle) for setting him a lot. He saw that Cameron was on tonight, he set him a lot and Cameron made the most of his opportunities.”
Dallago finished with a personal best 10 kills to go with two blocks.
Nevada Union’s hitters scorched the ball past Golden Valley defenders in the final three sets. Leading the NU attack was junior Preston Nowak, who hammered down 14 kills. Mills followed with 11 kills, including several that got the crowd on its feet.
“His high flying is intimidating for teams,” Mansuetti said of Mills’ athletic prowess. “When teams see him flying up high and bouncing balls, it puts them on their heels. It’s intimidating. It’s a mental game and having a player like him gives us a mental edge.”
Senior Carter Depue added 10 kills and Judah Myers finished with four.
Quiggle, the Miners’ talented junior setter, wrapped the night with 44 assists to go with two kills and six digs.
After dropping the opening game, the Miners were locked in a close second game, 12-11, but went on a 13-3 run to even the match at 1-1.
“It was really important,” Dallago said of regaining the momentum in the second game. “Teams build on energy, so we needed to go out there and play our game.”
The Miners kept rolling in the third game and cruised to a 25-8 victory, much to the delight of the home crowd.
“We just started to put balls in,” Mills said. “(Golden Valley) did a good job of putting balls in and letting us make mistakes in the first game, so our adjustment was to put our balls in and let them make the mistakes. And, having this huge crowd here meant so much. Once you get them going, it’s hard to stop us.”
In addition to their impressive attack, the Miners were also strong on defense, notching 17 blocks as a team. Leading the block party was Depue with eight, and Nowak with seven. Nowak and Jaycee Youngman led the team in digs with 11 each.
In the fourth and final set, Nevada Union went back and forth with Golden Valley early on, but finished on a 14-5 run to earn its fourth trip to a Section championship game. The Miners reached the Section’s D-I title game in 2009, 2013 and 2014, but have yet to bring home a championship banner.
“We just have to play as perfect as we can,” said Dallago of the what it will take to win the elusive Section title. “Just minimize mistakes and have energy.”
Mills agreed, “I think just having energy after every point. As long as we can keep our energy up we’re going to be a hard team to beat.”
The No. 1 Miners (27-2) will face No. 6 El Camino (17-4) for the D-II championship at 3 p.m. Saturday at Whitney High School in Rocklin. El Camino beat No. 2 Vista del Lago in four sets, 25-21, 21-25, 29-27, 26-24, to earn its spot in the title game.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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