Trojans ratchet up play to sweep Bruins
SHINGLE SPRINGS — The cause was good, the atmosphere was great and the volleyball was fantastic.
The much-anticipated rematch of an earlier five-set match between the Oak Ridge Trojans and Ponderosa Bruins rekindled the same emotion. Monday, on the night of the 5th annual Dig Pink Breast Cancer Awareness and fundraiser night, the visiting Lady Trojans swept the Bruins in three sets, winning 25-22, 25-19, 25-20.
“Not only is it a big win for us, but these girls finally implemented things that we’ve been trying to teach them to do on their own without telling them. They did that tonight,” Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said.
“I think that for the first time all year we applied what we’ve learned and played up to our potential,” senior Amelia Crye said.
Ponderosa, led by a rowdy home crowd, took early momentum as a Sarah Walker block and an Alex Rader ace staked the hosts out to a 5-0 lead. But the Trojans, who had lost composure in tense moments in previous matches, stayed collected and worked their way to a three-point deficit at 8-11 after Hayley Corell and Tara McDermott combined for a block.
After a couple of Bruin penalties, Corell had another big block to tie the game up at 12 apiece. The two squads continue to jostle for position, and the Bruins took a 17-16 lead after a Lauren Williams’ kill. Mysha Davies (15 kills) answered with a kill of her own for Oak Ridge and the teams continued to trade points.
Tied at 21-21, Corell ended a marvelous rally by both teams with a hit that deflected off a Ponderosa blocker and sailed out-of-bounds. Oak Ridge erred by touching the ball too many times, but Crye immediately gave the Trojans the lead back with a booming kill that resonated throughout the gymnasium. After a good rally, Ponderosa hit the ball out-of-bounds and following a Bruin timeout, Crye ended the set with an ace that fell between two diving Bruins.
“We didn’t serve well. When we’re on our game, we’re getting great serves, not hitting the net, not serving out-of-bounds,” Bruin coach Sheri Millhollin said.
Riding the wave of momentum from the first set, the Trojans took control. After tying the game up at 2-2 early on, Crye took over service. She served an ace and in the ensuing points Corell (3 blocks) smashed a ball for a kill, followed by two mighty kills from Davies as Oak Ridge took a 6-2 lead.
Maddie Clayton got Ponderosa within one point at 9-10, but after a Corell/Crye block, Oak Ridge led 14-10. Ponderosa battled, but the Trojans didn’t wilt, and after the Bruins got within one point again at 15-16, Marisa McConnell sparked a run with a kill and Corell finished the set off with a block of Rader for the 25-19 win.
“(Oak Ridge) was just playing smarter, more aggressive,” Rader said. “It was a bad game for us.”
Having been unable to close out teams in the third set, Oak Ridge came into it nearly as desperate as Ponderosa. The two teams battled throughout, swapping kills, aces, and blocks. After an Oak Ridge timeout following three straight Ponderosa points, freshman Emily DeMure bashed a kill, followed by a Davies block to bring it within a point at 10-11.
At this time the tables turned. Potter earned a red card for arguing with the referee regarding the crowd interaction and Bruins were rewarded with a point and service. However, the Trojans players took it up another notch.
“We were fired up because we knew that she was in it with us, and that got us going,” Crye said.
McDermott erased the point awarded with a kill, and Davies tied it up at 12 with another high-flying kill. Ponderosa took back the lead and led 16-13 after a Lindsey Bowles (14 kills) kill but Oak Ridge kept fighting and tied it back up after blocks by McConnell and Crye.
Ponderosa unraveled, committing two violations, and the Trojans surged out to a 20-16 lead after a Crye kill. The Bruins attempted to make up for the difference, but a McDermott ace ended it as the Trojans pulled out the victory in three sets.
“Tonight we were great. I definitely don’t want to say that we’ve peaked, but we’re on our way to greatness,” Potter said.
“I really think that is not going to be it, for us. I think that if we play like we did tonight, we’re going to go far,” Crye added.
Each team next plays on Wednesday, with the Bruins traveling down to Folsom to play the Lady Bulldogs, while the Trojans host Pleasant Grove on their Senior Night.