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Zuri Berry: More than football on the horizon

I’m the kind of guy who likes to ride with the waves, rather than against them.

Not literally, but theoretically. I’m not a surfer by any means, but I sure as hell understand where the energy lies in a community.

With this being a football town and such, and there’s no doubt it is, it’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla of Bruins and Miners football. The excitement for a new season is always there, and this year is no different.



But today I’m going to play against the grain, and hope that you will as well. I don’t want the diehard fans of this community to forget about the other fall sports sensations that are showcased at the area high schools ” particularly the Nevada Union Miners girls volleyball team.

If you can recall, the Miners went 44-5 last season as the Northern California champions and garnered their sixth straight Sac-Joaquin section championship.




It was a season full of record-breaking feats, including most wins (44) and section championships (tied at six). To top it off, longtime coaches Bob Rogers and Larry Peterson resigned after the season. Now the burden has been thrown on new coach Chrys Dudek’s shoulders to crack the glass ceiling: a state championship.

It won’t be easy as the Miners graduated a good portion of their talent, including San Jose State bound Sarah McAtee and Kylie Miraldi, along with Biola bound Christian Woodruff. And let’s not forget all-league setter Caroline Reeves.

Those are some big shoes to fill, for everyone around.

And it’s all the more reason to spark your interest coming into this season.

Dudek will have the opportunity to shape a storied program, and we’re less than two weeks away from seeing what it will officially look like.

But all I want to know is if he can guarantee a record seventh straight section championship.

“I’m not comfortable answering that question,” Dudek said with a laugh Tuesday.

He shouldn’t have to answer that one, but I must admit it’s hard to wrap my head around the prospects of a volleyball season in which the Miners can’t whisper in the ears of Brian Hamilton, our sports editor, and pretty much say they’ve got it in the bag.

With six straight years of having it in the bag, the pressure on Dudek is a little overwhelming.

“I’ve been kind of relating it to skydiving, which I’ve never done,” he said. “It’s just scary and exciting all at the same time. Every once in a while I start hyperventilating. Bob and Larry did a great job and it’s going to take a lot to fill their shoes. It’s exciting.”

That kind of excitement is exhilarating. It’s the essence of new beginnings and the reason why we look forward to watching this year’s team, as well the successful soccer, cross country and golf programs at all of our schools.

But it will be just as interesting to follow the water polo and tennis teams.

Obviously there’s a lot to choose from, so let’s not get only caught up in the Friday night lights and forget to go out Tuesdays and Thursdays as well.

When Nevada Union and Bear River have their “Meet the Bruins/Meet the Miners” on Sept. 5, it will be a sight to behold ” as always.

But don’t’ forget to meet the Lady Miners volleyball team Sept. 4 in their first home match against Yuba City. I’m sure it will be water cooler talk come November.

Zuri Berry is a sports writer at The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports. To contact Zuri, e-mail zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.


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