EL DORADO — A berth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game was on the line Tuesday when the Union Mine High volleyball team took the floor against visiting Christian Brothers.
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The Lady Diamondbacks quickly erased any doubt about which team was moving on and which team was done for the season. The D’backs completely dominated the Falcons from start to finish, hardly breaking a sweat in a 25-8, 25-17, 25-13 sweep.
“Our team was ready to play tonight and really excited,” Lea Howton said. “We’ve been working hard at practice and concentrating on staying focused. Tonight we did everything we needed to on defense and that set up the rest of our game. Our goal has been the finals and we would like to play Vista Del Lago again.”
Howton got her wish. The D’backs will take on Vista Thursday at UC Davis starting at 6 p.m. looking for revenge against the only team to beat Union Mine during the Sierra Valley Conference schedule. The D’backs lost just two matches this season, one in Chris Craft tournament early in the year, and the second to Vista.
The combo of Logan Savidge, with 23 assists on the night, and Mikayla Tucker, who finished the match with 24 kills, was deadly from the start. The Falcons had no answer for the tandem in the first game as Tucker hit away at will and in the blink of an eye, the Diamondbacks held a 15-4 advantage. The domination continued as Malia Gonzales, Howton and Maddy Berridge were on top of the passing game, allowing Savidge to set Kaity Kime, Tucker and Jacqueline Swarbrick over the course of the night.
Union Mine easily polished off the first game, squashing any hopes the Falcons had of a comeback.
“Our team has been a little up and down with its focus over the last part of the season but tonight they played solid and kept up their energy over the entire match,” Union Mine coach Mike Yates said after the match. “Our passing tonight was great , which allowed our setting to be even better — and that made our hitting fantastic. This evening everything was clicking and now we get to play for the section championship.”
The only time the D’backs showed even a hint of struggling was in the early stages of the second game. Christian Brothers stayed right with Union Mine and only trailed 10-8 after some missed hits and service errors.
With resolve, Union Mine quickly rebounded and went on a 8-2 run to gain a healthy lead but the Falcons rallied to put pressure on the home team before Savidge, Howton, Gonzales and Swarbrick stepped up their attacks, held off the Falcons and put the set away.
The third game was a repeat of the opening act as the Diamondbacks quickly went out in front 7-1 and continued to expand that lead until the score was 19-7. With victory in sight and their ticket to the finals nearly stamped, the Diamondbacks maintained their composure and poise to finish off the match.
“We’ve been working toward this all year and we are really excited about playing for the title,” Savidge and Tucker said collectively. “Tonight we came out and played our game. We brought a lot of energy and played with enthusiasm the entire match and now we want to face Vista Del Lago again and win a section title.”