El Dorado won its final regular season appearance at home with Thursday’s 25-17, 25-21, 25-19 Halloween night victory over Cosumnes Oaks.
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The win clinched second place in the Sierra Valley Conference for the Lady Cougars. Prior to the first serve, El Dorado honored seniors Julia Kirk and Kristen Van Gilder.
“We lost to them the first time so we came in pumped up, kept our energy up and wanted to take this match,” the seniors said. “We’re bummed our time (with the program) is over but it’s ending on a high. We think we’ll do well in the playoffs and go far.”
Thursday’s revenge win was a step in the right direction for Kirk/Van Gilder and Co. Both teams blocked well at the net, something El Dorado anticipated.
“We’ve spent a lot of practice time on defensive work, especially coverage off the block and deeper digging situations and it showed tonight,” Cougar coach Shelley Bishop said. “We switched some things around (from the first time we played them) and it worked really well.”
Bishop said Van Gilder had “a great digging game,” Kirk “had the best hitting night of her career,” and praised the play of the right side (Rachel Rus, Serena Franz) and the play of all the middles (Makayla Hoyt, MacKenzie Niemann, Abby Bennett).
El Dorado also relied on the setting of Sabrina Tate and Riley Weinhold; the defense of Joy Martin and Piper Raleigh; and the hitting of Kylie Haverson for a complete team victory.
The Cougars (8-3) survived a late Wolfpack (7-5) rally in the first set, winning on Bennett’s deposit of a stray bump. The second set also tightened toward the end before errant hits led to Cosumnes Oaks’ downfall. After Martin’s third-set midrow smash deflected off the net and Haverson hammered a kill, another Wolf mistake put the match in the books.
“We were down in the third set but in a sign of maturity picked ourselves right back up,” Bishop said. “Everyone wanted to play well tonight and win for our seniors.”