SHINGLE SPRINGS — With Sheldon the only barrier standing in the way of a playoff berth, the host Ponderosa volleyball team made quick work of the Huskies 25-9, 25-11, 25-22 for a Senior Night victory to close the Delta River League season.
“I thought we played well. We knew what was at stake so we didn’t take (Sheldon) lightly, even though they’ve had a rough season. We’re inconsistent, but when we play our best volleyball we’re a tough team,” Bruin coach Sheri Millhollin said.
Prior to the match, Millhollin and Ponderosa honored the five graduating seniors: Morgan O’Neill, Alex Rader, Kylie Christensen, Courtney Chester and Lindsey Bowles.
Afterwards, the pivotal match began and the Bruins took advantage of weak Sheldon blocking, sprinting out to an early 7-2 lead after a Sarah Walker ace. Ponderosa continued to put pressure on the Husky frontcourt and in doing so, took control of the set to go up 17-4 after a Rader kill. After two more Rader kills and two from Bowles, including the last point, the Bruins had the opening set.
The Bruins maintained their intensity into the second set and it showed on the scoreboard. After a Sheldon serve hit the net for the first point, Rader took control of service and served three aces around a Bowles tip. Bowles had two kills, and a Rader smash gave Ponderosa an 11-5 cushion. Sheldon fought back and after a block was within 17-10 but back-to-back kills from Bowles regained momentum and two blocks from Lauren Williams had the Bruins in the driver’s seat heading to the third set.
The final set was more difficult than the first two. After taking a 4-1 lead on a Rader tip, Sheldon rallied to get within 5-4. The two teams traded points and Ponderosa led 12-10 after a Sheldon hit sailed out. The Bruins stretched the lead to 18-11 but the visiting Huskies kept their composure and rallied to get within three points.
With the playoffs in sight, Ponderosa buckled down. After a Chester block extended the margin to 22-18, Bowles had two huge kills to get the Bruins at match point which they got after a Sheldon ball hit the net.
“We all want to hopefully get a home playoff game, so that tonight wasn’t the seniors’ last home game.” On the seniors, Millhollin said “They’ve all contributed so much to our program since their freshman year, some of them on varsity. They will be greatly missed next year.”
Bowles led with 18 kills while Rader had eight. Christensen had 16 assists and Nicole Banke, 9; Rader had three aces and Banke and Christensen two apiece; O’Neill had 15 digs, Rader, 12, and Bowles, 7; O’Neil had 18 serve receives.
Ponderosa finished 5-5 in league, good for third place.