EL DORADO HILLS — What began as a nail-biter ended in a cakewalk Tuesday for the 11th-ranked Oak Ridge High volleyball team, which swept visiting Pleasant Grove 26-24, 25-13, 25-14.
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After the Lady Trojans’ late push to get the lead in the opening game, the hosts held off the Eagles for the overtime victory before cruising in the next two. Oak Ridge improved to 6-2 in the Delta River League and is tied for second place with Ponderosa.
“Pleasant Grove has some really good hitters and are scrappy too,” Troy coach Becky Potter said. “Sometimes we go through the motions — and we did — but we fixed it and went from there.”
From there is tomorrow’s match at league-leading St. Francis. Oak Ridge can catch the Troubadours with a victory and help from the Bruins who have St. Francis at home next week. But before looking ahead the Trojans paid homage to seniors Katie Vaughn, Kirsten Burkland and Haley Padua-Dean before Tuesday’s match. Of the three, only Vaughn is still playing.
“We lost so many seniors (from last year) but I love every girl here and everyone has stepped up this season,” Vaughn said. “It’s been an honor to play varsity all four years and a real experience to be a part of teams that went so far because there are a lot of talented players who never even reach the playoffs. Hopefully we can go as far as last year.”
Last year Pleasant Grove took Oak Ridge to five games in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal match and Tuesday was more of the same — at least early in. The Eagles led 15-11 before the Trojans went on a 6-0 run with Maddie Chambliss on serve. Arden Zuber’s tip over the Eagle blockers tied the score and her block of a tap gave Oak Ridge the lead. Vaughn came out of the visitors’ timeout with a kill of Tara McDermott’s set but Pleasant Grove pulled even when Brooke Svennunsgen’s free ball caught the net and fell untouched on Troy’s side to make it 18-18.
The two battled to the end and both held and lost two-point leads. Tied at 23, an Eagle serve sailed long but Melissa Norman put away a quick set to force Oak Ridge to talk things over. When play resumed Nikki Haggard assisted Alexa Becker’s cross-court kill and though Pleasant Grove made an initial save on Haley Simmons’ tip to the middle, the next touch went out to give the Trojans a one game advantage.
“If we hadn’t won that first game it would have hurt us for the second because it would have been in our heads and we would have second-guessed ourselves,” Zuber said. “Once we got our system down we got our energy back up, started playing our game and were able to win.”
The second game was tight to begin before Oak Ridge pulled away. McDermott short-served for an ace, picked up another on a return to the pole and Troy led 19-10 on a kill by Mysha Davies. Zuber then teamed with Davies for a roof block, Vaughn landed an ace with a jump serve, Becker scored with a smash and a deflected kill and Vaughn ended it with a rocket that grazed an Eagle.
The final game was all Oak Ridge as the Eagles faded. After Simmons’ kill caromed off a blocker, Vaughn had kills on the next three Trojan points as the El Dorado Hills squad led 22-10. Zuber’s kills were the next two Trojan points and her smash to the back line ended the match.