GARDEN VALLEY — El Dorado Adventist’s bid to avenge last season’s only volleyball loss at the hands of Golden Sierra was on track after the first two sets Wednesday night. Three sets later it had completely derailed.
The host Grizzlies, pushed to the brink, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat — rallying all the way back to post the 20-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-11 intra-county nonleague win over the Eagles.
El Dorado Adventist went 21-1 last year — its lone setback to Golden Sierra — and is now 9-1.
“It’s a tough loss … I thought we had it,” Eagle coach Greg McEwen said. “We got soft a little in game three and mentally beat up in that and the next game. They (Griz) did a good job blocking our hitters.”
Golden Sierra’s net play led by Lindsey Natrass, Becca Brown, Abby Wever, Robin Moore, Paige Murchison and Jordyn Condit was key to the outcome. Despite dropping the second set, the Garden Valley girls ramped up efforts and contested El Dorado’s hitters the rest of the way.
“We’ve never blocked so well against that quick of an offense. Lindsey’s (Natrass) healthy and it showed,” Grizzly coach Justin Cox said. “I asked the girls to stay focused and fight and they didn’t give up.”
Golden Sierra was dead in the water as the Eagles won a close opening set and then flew high in the second behind the steady play of Kristina Hughes, Lexi Shanko, Perri Shanko, Taylor Sears, Olivia Kemp and setter Alex Golmitz.
“We came in thinking although they beat us last year we had a good chance. Unfortunately it turned out like last year … reaching a point where we were almost there (winning),” Golmitz said. “We held our own and hopefully this will be our only loss.”
Needing the third set to stay alive, the Grizzlies mounted their comeback. Though Adventist tightened the score late as both Shankos produced points, several clutch plays by Brown, Condit’s deposit of a stray bump and Wever’s kill down the line forced a fourth set.
With momentum, Murchison’s hitting, Eagle mistakes and Condit’s lengthy mid-set service run had Golden Sierra in good shape in the next game but El Dorado’s 10-3 run pulled the Placerville team within 20-23. Condit’s mid-row smash off Moore’s feed and a Brown/Moore roof block tied the match.
The Eagles held the early advantage in the deciding set as Lexi scored on two kills and Hughes blocked Natrass, landed an overhead free ball and put away a Golmitz set. Golden Sierra pulled even behind Brittany LaShell’s tough serving and kills from Murchison and Brown.
Unforced errors plagued the visitors with Murchison at serve. Wever’s tap off the block, her kill and Muchison’s tip to the middle sat the Grizzlies at match point before Lexi’s smash and Hughes’ kill allowed Adventist to stave off defeat. Natrass’ kill toward the back line ended it.
“We’ve been doing better at the net and upped our intensity tonight,” Natrass said. “Volleyball has its ups and downs but we pulled it out.”