GARDEN VALLEY — Ponderosa High volleyball head coach Sheri Millhollin was pleased with her Bruins’ performance against Golden Sierra at Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section’s Foundation match — but quickly pointed out her team must improve as the season progresses.
The Lady Bruins (7-3) dropped the host Grizzlies, playing their first match of the season, in three competitive sets, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22. Proceeds from the game will benefit the section’s scholarship fund.
“We’re still trying to find some consistency,” said Millhollin, whose squad has won five of its last six matches. “When we were on, we did really well.”
Ponderosa led the entire first set, thanks to a mixture of passing the ball, setting up the kill and taking advantage of side outs. But Golden Sierra nipped at the Bruins’ heels, and rallied thanks to Ponderosa errors. The Grizzlies stayed within 2-3 points but couldn’t sustain rallies to overcome the Bruins’ lead.
“We’re working with different lineups,” said Golden Sierra head coach Justin Cox, who has six seniors on this year’s team. “We’re trying to figure some things out, position-wise. We still have some kinks to work out.”
In the second set, the Bruins jumped out to a 4-1 lead, with three points coming from aces by outside hitter Megan Jones. But Golden Sierra trimmed Ponderosa’s lead to 4-3 thanks to a side out and ace from outside hitter Paige Murchison. Then the Bruins went on a 6-2 run that included three aces from setter Taylor Yancey and an ace from defensive specialist Kenna Davidson.
Increasing its lead to 13-8, Ponderosa saw its advantage shrink again when Golden Sierra cut the lead to 13-11 behind an ace from middle hitter Becca Brown and two side outs. The Bruins finished off the second set with a 12-7 run, including a kill and ace from outside hitter Alexa Carcione.
Golden Sierra jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the third set. But that was short-lived when Ponderosa took advantage of serve-receive errors by the Grizzlies for a 5-3 lead. The Grizzlies cut the Bruins’ lead again at 7-6 from a kill by Brown. As in the first and second sets, Ponderosa held off late Golden Sierra rallies to win the match.
“When the chips are down, teams usually rally,” Cox said. “I thought we did that tonight. I wish we had started and continued that throughout the whole match. We can’t show up at the end of the third game and expect to pull out a victory.”
Millhillon is confident that her players will continue to improve before the start of Delta River League play.
“We’re playing well but we need to get more of a killer instinct,” Millhillon said. “We need to put the ball in the air.”
Cox, too, feels his players’ confidence will continue to build before the start of Sierra Delta League action.
“We have some good potential in the middle if we’re able to pass the ball on offense,” Cox said.
Jones and middle hitter Lauren Williams led the Bruins with six and five kills respectively. Yancey finished with four aces, and middle hitter Erin Fogarty and sophomore outside hitter Paris Backston had three each. Freshman middle hitter Kassie McGill had three blocked shots for the Bruins. Davidson had 11 digs and Yancey 13 assists.
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