SHINGLE SPRINGS — Oak Ridge High’s third straight Delta River League victory proved the opposite for Ponderosa after the two intra-county rivals clashed in Shingle Springs Wednesday evening.
The annual ‘Dig Pink’ match saw the Bruins’ gym adorned with pink streamers, balloons and posters. In front of a sizable pink-clad Loud Crowd, the Lady Trojans upended host Ponderosa 25-16, 25-23, 25-25-19.
“Our goal was to be mentally tough enough to handle the crowd and focus on doing the job and I thought we did that,” Oak Ridge coaches Bre Horton and Christy Bergin said. “The setter-hitter connections were good tonight — it’s something we’re working on. We’re happy for the girls … it’s a good win against a rival.”
Horton, a Bruins’ alum and Bergin, a Trojan grad, played for and against Ponderosa coach Sheri Millhollin whose squad had the upper hand to start. But behind the setting of Moira McVicar and Elizabeth Cameron; the hitting of Marissa Quilici, Olivia Reid and Hayley Corell: and the defense of Kelly Krigger, Maddie DeGeorge and Erin Trigger, Oak Ridge caught and passed the Bruins, ending with a 9-2 run.
“This (match) was a lot more intense,” said McVicar referring to Monday’s easy win over Sheldon. “There was a lot of energy due to the big crowd but we were able to feed off of it.”
Ponderosa improved its play in the second set despite trailing 6-1. The efforts of Sarah Walker, Megan Jones, Nicole Banke, Christine McDavid, Alexa Carcione, Paris Bankston and Taylor Yancey allowed the Bruins to come back and keep pace before a series of mistakes forced Millhollin to call time trailing 18-13.
Bruin Lauren Williams took over once play resumed as her presence at the net rallied the home team. Ponderosa was within three after a Jones-Williams roof block, Jones’ save and Walker’s tip to the middle and closer after a Trojan mis-hit and Yancey’s ace caught the net and slunk to the floor.
Atoning for an earlier miss, Reid’s smash found the middle of the Bruin defense but Ponderosa stayed alive when Oak Ridge failed to react to a stray bump. Poised to force overtime, the Bruins’ next serve hit the net.
“Earlier in the season we would have given up but the fact we didn’t means we are improving,” Millhollin said.
Two early plays in the final set said it all. After Quilici scored to open the set, Williams blocked a shot but not one Ponderosa player went to a free ball Troy had conceded. The other was Kimmy Tuttle’s reaching, improbable one-hand save that sat for a millisecond atop the net and fell before a group of Bruins stuck in quick sand.
“It just shows how it’s really important that every point matters,” Jones said. “We were so close the whole time and fought hard but couldn’t get over the hump.”
Ponderosa did stay close as Jones’ deflected kill had her team within 23-19. Oak Ridge put the sweep in the books after the net redirected Tuttle’s hit and Reid put away McVicar’s set.
Note: Prior to the match, Zach Pickett stepped in for his mom and delivered the pre-match talk about the importance of combating breast cancer.