LOOMIS — Lindsey Bowles and the seniors of the Ponderosa volleyball team knew their careers weren’t quite over yet. After sweeping Yuba City to begin the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II playoffs, Bowles and Co. still had to play No. 4 seed Del Oro, which had swept the Bruins in their only other meeting this year.
Playing in what could have been the season/career finale, Bowles and her teammates stepped up Thursday after a first-set loss and took down the Golden Eagles 16-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-10.
“We definitely used it (earlier loss to Del Oro) as motivation. They’re a team I’ve never beaten, but we really came together as a team and played really well tonight,” Bowles said.
Del Oro had also knocked the 2011 version of the Bruins out of the playoffs.
Playing in a hostile environment, the Bruins stayed neck-and-neck with the Golden Eagles throughout the first set, but ultimately fell short. In the second, Del Oro was poised to take control after a couple of Bruins misfires, but Ponderosa evened the score at 6 courtesy of a Kylie Christensen push that fell. The Bruins took an 8-7 lead off a Bowles ace but momentum was short-lived as Del Oro remained a point back at 13-12.
After Morgan Lees and Stephanie Solich kills tied the set up at 21 apiece, Ponderosa’s Alex Rader’s kill and a Del Oro mishit gave Ponderosa a 24-22 lead. Rader then served an ace that fell in between two diving Eagles to tie the match.
As Del Oro took a 9-5 lead in the third set the Bruins battled back. After a serve hit the net to give Del Oro a 17-14 advantage, sophomore Lauren Williams and freshman Maddie Clayton blocked a shot as the tide turned. Ponderosa tied the set up at 17 after a Rader kill and Bowles’ ace, and took an 18-17 lead after a Williams kill to end a long rally. After the Bruins went up 20-19 off a Sarah Walker tip, Del Oro retook a 21-20 lead.
At this point, Bowles took over. The Bruins retied the set up at 21 after a desperation shot from Bowles fell. Another impressive rally ensued, but Bowles ended it with a kill, and on the next point, her shot knocked the Del Oro defender over as Ponderosa took a 23-21 lead.
The Golden Eagles rallied back to get within one point of victory at 24-23 but Bowles wouldn’t allow it. She smacked a huge kill to tie it back up, and gave the Bruins a shot to win after another high-flying shot. A Solich kill tied it at 25, but yet another Bowles smash followed by a Paris Backston ace ended the set.
Having won the mentally exhausting third set, the Bruins held momentum in the fourth. A Walker ace staked Ponderosa to a 4-1 lead and they never looked back. Williams made her presence felt with a block and kill to give the Bruins a 10-3 advantage and control. The Bruins continued to pour on the points as Williams’ block gave the visitors a 23-10 lead before two Bowles aces ended the match.
‘(Williams) played the game of her life tonight,” Bruins coach Sheri Millhollin said. “Everyone found a way to contribute.”
Ponderosa (17-16) plays at El Camino on Tuesday against No. 1 seed Eagles.