PREP VOLLEYBALL: Nevada Union edges Vacaville, advances to semifinals
With their season on the line, the Lady Miners rose to the occasion Thursday night and punched their ticket to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.
Playing in front of a raucous crowd at Albert Ali Gymnasium, the Nevada Union girls volleyball team pulled out a thrilling five-set playoff win over the Vacaville Bulldogs, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20, 16-25, 15-11.
“We like to play those tight games,” Nevada Union head coach Chrys Dudek said. “(Our players) just maintained their calm, their cool and their collectiveness, and we worked through it. We had some rough spots but we knew what to do.”
With the match knotted at two sets apiece, the Lady Miners played their best volleyball in the fifth and decisive set, getting solid play from senior captains Regan Heppe and Greta Kramer as well as Danica Minard, Meadow Aragon, Rebekah McGill and sophomore standout Faith Menary.
Trailing 5-3 in the fifth set, Kramer scored with a block before Heppe reeled off three kills to give NU a 7-6 advantage. Heppe added another kill, Minard followed with a kill and junior setter McGill fired one down to put NU up 11-8. Vacaville responded with a pair of kills from Haley Del Rio to pull within one at 11-10. That would be as close as the Bulldogs would get.
Kills from Kramer and Menary gave NU a 13-11 edge, and an ace by senior Lauren Engleking put the Lady Miners at match-point.
With a spot in the semifinals a point away, Heppe smashed down the final kill to give NU the victory.
“Regan came through with some key hits,” said Dudek. “It’s really nice to have her on our side.”
Heppe said it all came down to heart for the Lady Miners.
“We just wanted to give it all we got,” she said. “We lost a little heart in a few of those sets and I think that was the main component that was missing. But, we knew we had the skills and just needed to push it through because we wanted it more.”
Heppe led all NU hitters with 31 kills to go with 12 digs. Menary and Minard both added nine kills, Aragon finished with seven kills and two blocks, and Kramer tallied six kills to go with two blocks.
Running the offense all night was McGill, who finished with an impressive 62 assists to go with two aces and six digs.
Nevada Union’s libero Eliza Hales was busy as well, diving all over the floor to keep plays alive. Hales led the team with 23 digs.
Vacaville, the No. 10 seed, came into the game with one playoff upset already to their credit and were looking for a second, but the No. 2 seed Lady Miners (33-12) put a halt to the Bulldogs’ Cinderella story and will now gear up to face No. 6 Del Oro (18-13) Tuesday.
The Golden Eagles are into the semifinals after straight-set wins over No. 11 River Valley and No. 14 Wood.
Nevada Union and Del Oro have already faced off twice this season with the Lady Miners taking both matches.
The other D-II semifinal matchup features No. 1 seed Ponderosa (31-4) and No. 4 St. Mary’s (26-10).
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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