If Tuesday night’s any indication, El Dorado’s varsity girls volleyball won’t shy away from the competition.
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Though it didn’t count officially, the Lady Cougars took on visiting Oakmont in the annual Foundation Game matchup. The Vikings, the defending Division III section champs who ousted El Dorado last year in the semifinals, still held the edge after upending the hosts 9-25, 24-26, 11-25.
“We’re a young team with just two seniors and it’s a good group,” said new Cougar coach Shelley Bishop. “Our serve-receive has to get up to speed and our blocking will make a difference. It’s a whole new program and we’re working on having a faster offense.
Bishop brings 25 years of coaching experience that includes stints at Elk Grove and Sacramento City College. She’s assisted by former El Dorado alumni Kristen Cleland (Two-time All Conference at Sierra College, Florida Atlantic University) who’ll lend expertise/guidance to Cougar setters Sabrina Tate and Riley Weinhold.
Despite its youth, El Dorado showed glimpses of solid play, especially in the middle set that saw the Cougars rally to force overtime. Ultimately, unforced errors, across the board, prevented El Dorado from the upset Tuesday.
“I’m pleased with what I saw but there are basics we still need to work on,” Bishop said.
The Cougars also battled early in the third set after trailing 7-1. They pulled within 12-9 on Tate’s kill before Oakmont closed on a 13-2 run to lock down the sweep.
El Dorado’s two returning seniors are Julia Kirk and Kristen Van Gilder. Returning varsity players are libero Piper Raleigh, Tate, Mackenzie Niemann, Weinhold and Kylie Haverson.
Rounding out the roster, Abby Bennett returns after not playing last season and adds height to the Cougar lineup; Joy Martin; Julia Hoyt, Serena Franz; Rachel Rus; and 6-foot, 1-inch sophomore Makayla Hoyt.
El Dorado’s official home opener is September 24 against Placer and it’s Sierra Valley Conference is September 26 at River City.
“I think we’ll surprise some people because we’ll be kind of underdogs,” Bishop said. “People aren’t paying attention to us and that’s nice.”
Tuesday’s stat leaders — Kills: Bennett, 3; Hoyt, 2; Haverson, 2; Tate, 2. Aces: Tate, Bennett, Weinhold. Blocks: Bennett, 3; Kirk, 3; Tate, 2. Digs: Raleigh, 7; Van Gilder, 6. Assists: Tate, 5; Weinhold, 5. Serve receive: Raleigh, 23; Van Gilder, 18; Kirk, 10.