GARDEN VALLEY — Two well-timed clutch tips from Alexis Hall — one the match winner — ended Golden Sierra’s three-set 26-24, 25-18, 26-24 victory over visiting El Dorado Adventist Wednesday night.
The Grizzlies had their backs to the wall in the first and last set, rallying in both. In each, the Lady Eagles were ahead 24-22 and serving for the win.
“We had no clue (about El Dorado Adventist) and you can never tell with a private school,” Golden Sierra coach Justin Cox said. “I was surprised to hear their players don’t play club but they’ve played together and it showed.”
The Placerville school has an enrollment of just over 50, nine who can play volleyball, especially the starters. Wednesday was a rare, if not first, regular season intra-county varsity contact for the Eagles and they pressed for the victory.
“We wanted to give them a run for their money … and … win,” El Dorado coach Greg McEwen said. “Getting that first game would have made a big difference and momentum swing but we gave it away. We’re young — our lack of communication and unforced errors hurt us — but I was proud of the girls.”
The Grizzlies did dig deep to overcome the upstart Eagles, leading just once in the first and third sets before overtaking the Eagles in overtime. Golden Sierra settled in during the second game and held off a late push from El Dorado.
“It’s always good to play teams as good or better and I thought we did well,” Eagles’ senior setter Alissa Casey said. “This is the first time we’ve played a real match with a public school. We weren’t getting our passes from the serves in the first and third sets and then couldn’t get a set for a hit.”
Casey’s serves staked the Eagles to a fast 4-0 lead in the first game. Kristina Hughes then pounded a kill but Hall’s dig back over put the home team on the board. Golden Sierra pulled to within one with Jordyn Condit on serve but Hughes’ tap-down of a stray and stuff at the net had El Dorado up 15-10.
Behind Tiffany Grey, Abigail Wever and Becca Brown, the Griz tightened their deficit but fell back as Eagle Alex Golmitz hit them with a tough serve.
Trailing 22-18, Golden Sierra made its move with Paige Murchison on serve but the Grizzlies were down 24-22 with Casey serving for the win. Tristan Nedeigh tapped a point to the middle and Grey’s soft hit tied the score before a bump to the stands put the Griz up and Grey set up Jamie Hinton for the kill/win.
Golden Sierra turned an 8-11 deficit to a 17-11 advantage with Hinton on serve in the middle set. Adventist twice crept within two points but Hinton again put away a Grey set for the 2-0 lead.
The play of Lexi Shanko, Haley Sutton, Perry Shanko, Hughes, Golmitz and Casey forged a last-set 19-13 lead after Lexi’s kill off the block. Grey’s savvy play and Wever’s kill, block and soft smash to the middle forced McEwen to stop play clinging to a 20-19 advantage.
Hughes blasted a spike off the Grizzly block and Lexi’s serve for a point had the Eagles extending before Wever tipped home a point and landed an ace. Golden Sierra pulled even on Grey’s back set for Hall but El Dorado charged back in front 24-22 on Sutton’s tap.
Hall’s reaching tap back to the middle surprised El Dorado and at 24-all, the Eagles watched a bump fall and saw their upset bid end as Hall went over head to tap in the game-winner.
“We’ve been struggling but we picked ourselves up,” Halll said. “After a bad loss to Vacaville Christian this was a much-needed win and will get our confidence up.”