PREP VOLLEYBALL: Nevada Union, Bear River, FLC all in playoff hunt
Nevada Union’s girls volleyball team was in need of a statement win after a rough run through the first half of Foothill Valley League play.
The Lady Miners earned that statement win with a straight set throttling of FVL foe Placer, 25-14, 25-13, 25-18, on Thursday night.
“This was a big one,” said NU head coach Chrys Dudek. “This will help set the momentum for the rest of our season. We were tied with Placer and Lincoln, so this was a big hill to get over and we’re glad to get past (Placer) with flying colors and we’re looking forward to taking on Oakmont on Monday.”
The Miners had lost their earlier season bout with Placer in four sets. Thursday night’s game was a chance to avenge that loss and take a step closer to a playoff berth.
Competing in front of the home crowd on Pink Night, the Lady Miners dominated from start to finish, getting big games from Faith Menary, Meadow Aragon, Bekah McGill and Emerson Dunbar.
Menary, a junior outside hitter, led the team with 13 kills and five aces.
“Faith is a weapon and when she turns things on, she’s almost unstoppable,” said Dudek.
Aragon, a senior middle hitter, chipped in seven kills to go with a block and three aces.
“Meadow has been such a steady player for us,” said Dudek. “She never gets too wound up one way or another. She’s a huge line of our defense and she’s come on as an offensive weapon.”
McGill, a team captain and senior setter, ran the offense skillfully, doling out 29 assists to go with 13 digs, four kills and two aces.
“Bekah has been running the show for two years almost and her experience has really grown,” said Dudek. “As a leader she really helps dictate our mood on the court.”
Dunbar, a junior outside hitter, added nine kills in the victory.
With the win over Placer, Lady Miners are off to a good start to the back-half of the league season with four critical FVL contests remaining. Nevada Union is currently in third place in the league standings behind first place Ponderosa (24-2, 6-0) and second place Oakmont (12-11, 5-1). Placer (7-10, 2-4) and Lincoln (12-6, 2-4) are tied for fourth. Rio Linda anchors the league, having yet to win a FVL contest.
“We’re ready to take on that second half,” said Dudek. “We need to play one point at a time, focus on supporting each other and getting our feet to the ball. Just getting back to basics a little bit so we can take these teams out in a more simplified fashion. Tough serving, tough defense, then we’ll bring on the offense when we get good passing going.”
The top three teams in the FVL get an automatic playoff bid.
In addition to four more league games, the Lady Miners will also be competing in two more tourneys, including the Pleasant Valley Viking Classic which starts today. NU’s next league game is on the road Monday at Oakmont.
BRUINS EYE SHARE OF LEAGUE TITLE
Minus a hiccup against the rival Colfax Falcons, the Lady Bruins have been impressive in Pioneer Valley League play.
With Wednesday’s straight set win over Marysville, Bear River is now 15-8 overall and 5-1 in PVL play.
“This group, they are young, but they are more intense and focused in practice than I’ve seen here in a long time,” said Bear River head coach Matt MacDonald. “It’s why I think they are improving so much.”
Outside of a five-set loss to Colfax, the Lady Bruins have rarely been tested in league play, winning all their other PVL bouts in straight sets.
Leading the Lady Bruins has been senior outside hitter Callie Bickmore, who notched a team-high 20 kills in Wednesday’s win over Marysville.
The Lady Bruins also have strong hitters in Bella Thornbury, Sydney Franks and Kerynn Smith.
A big reason for the success the Bruins have been finding in league play goes to their senior setter and team captain Caitlin McLaughlin.
“She knows what we want to do in each situation and where we want the ball to go to,” said MacDonald, who compared what McLaughlin does to what a quarterback does on a football team.
The Lady Bruins have just four league games left this season and are currently in second place in the PVL standings. Colfax (17-8, 6-0) sits atop the league standings.
“We’re hoping we can finish out strong,” said MacDonald. “Get a co-championship and hopefully a good seed in the playoffs.”
The last time Bear River won the PVL title was 2015 and if they hope to grab a share of this year’s they will need to pull out a road win over Colfax Monday.
The top four teams from the PVL earn an automatic playoff bid.
FALCONS SOARING TOWARD PLAYOFFS
The Forest Lake Christian team currently sits in second place in the Central Valley California League, going 17-6 overall and 8-2 through 10 league contests.
The Lady Falcons, who are once again led by FLC coaching legend Travis Smith, have been strong in league play thanks to senior Lily Sween, junior Taylor Dunn, junior Raegan Tanon and junior Bella O’Neill. Sween leads the team in kills and blocks. Dunn is second on the team in kills. Tanon leads the way on defense, pacing the team in digs. And, O’Neill has impressed as a setter and from the service line, leading the team in assists and aces.
The Lady Falcons have four league games left on their schedule, starting with a road match at Victory Christian Tuesday. They are currently in second place behind Woodland Christian (19-7, 10-0). The top four teams from the CVCL get an automatic playoff bid.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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