ROSEVILLE — Host Oakmont was good as advertised Tuesday in its Sac-Joaquin Division III semifinal volleyball match against visiting El Dorado, eliminating the Lady Cougars 15-25, 18-25, 19-25.
Not the outcome El Dorado envisioned but little dispute the better team won. As the bracket’s top seed, the Vikings bumped, passed and spiked their way to the section final. Oakmont’s court ability — opposite the Cougars’ case of the jitters — was tough for the Placerville team to overcome.
“We were super nervous and lost it on the third ball — tips, not taking advantage at the net where we should have swung harder — we were afraid to make mistakes,” El Dorado coach Sharon Hardy said. “I thought this would be an equal match coming it and it was equal except for the fact we had way too many unforced errors.”
Tuesday’s loss ended the prep career of the last of the Hardy sisters to come through the program — first Lindsey, Madison and now Kylee who’s unsure if nursing school and volleyball mix going forward.
“I’ll miss playing El Dorado volleyball. I’m not really sad but glad we got this far. We were so close — one match from getting there (Davis),” Kylee said. “I think the pressure of this game (tonight) got to us … every point was intense.”
The setback also breaks the bond seniors Lena Gavin and Keely Franz share having played together on every team since the sixth grade. Though Tuesday’s circumstances were much tougher than last week’s quarterfinal win over Rio Americano, both had moments adding points to the Cougars’ side.
“We were off and didn’t bring our ‘A’ game,” Franz said. “It was a great season and the program made it a great senior season.”
Gavin, so good against Rio, simply tipped her cap to Oakmont.
“They’re a real solid team,” Gavin said. “Our unforced errors was the turning point. Every time we’d get some momentum we’d mess it up.”
With Oakmont in cruise control behind the hitting of Katie Carte, momentum was hard to come by for El Dorado. Just to stick within striking distance of the Vikes was good in itself.
“They really kept us out of system pretty well, our key servers were missing their serves and we tried but couldn’t stop No. 3 (Carte),” coach Hardy said. “We hit a lot of nets tonight. Normally we don’t but we were anxious tonight.”
El Dorado never led in the first set and by the time Gavin, Franz and Courtney Macklin asserted themselves in the front court it was too late. The Cougars manged to creep within 15-19 but the Vikings 6-0 run switched the benches.
Gavin’s ace and Franz’ smash and kill kept the second set tied in the early going before El Dorado grabbed a 12-11 lead on Kylee’s set to Franz. The Cougars clung to Oakmont before the Vikings broke from a 16-15 lead with nine of the next 12 points to go up 2-0.
Oakmont’s X-factor was the play of its middle, Maura Uebner. El Dorado repeatedly hit toward her — without success — and Uebner plays accounted for the final points of the first and third sets.
Sabrina Tate’s served El Dorado to an 8-5 lead in the final set before the Vikings overtook the Cougars. El Dorado’s late, last-ditch effort behind Macklin’s kill, Franz’ kill, her tip over Oakmont’s block and Tate’s ace wasn’t enough as the Vikings closed the door.
“We really pulled together as a team this season,” coach Hardy said. “Everybody was on board and everyone worked hard. It was a neat season.”