SHINGLE SPRINGS — Ponderosa’s energetic, enthusiastic solid play Monday night fell just short of toppling No. 1 ranked St. Francis which escaped with the 25-22, 26-28, 29-27, 25-22 Delta River League volleyball win.
In trying to level the Troubadours with just their third loss, the Lady Bruins could claim the moral victory after pushing the area’s top team to the brink. Key to the outcome and likely turning point — the intense, third set that saw Ponderosa ahead in overtime but unable to close the deal.
“One point at a time got away from us … all so close,” Bruin Lindsey Bowles said. ”That’s the best we’ve played and I’ve never been more proud of my team. It doesn’t even feel like a loss.”
The offense, defense, chemistry and ability was all there for St. Francis but its knack to make up a deficit stood out. As Bowles and Alex Rader pummeled kills at the Troubadours, the visitors never let the Bruins out of their sights. Ponderosa held a 20-17 advantage in the third set and momentum before St. Francis rallied.
“We still have to finish out games, that’s our next focus,” Bruin coach Sheri Millhollin said. “The girls played their hearts out and felt like they coulda/shoulda won. We kept them on their backs all night and were the aggressors. Just a couple of errors cost us the ball game.”
Down two games to one, Ponderosa still had a chance but lost a late 18-16 lead as the Troubadours closed on a 9-5 run behind the play of Gabriella Palmeri (25 kills), Courtney Robledo, Allison Child, Allie Wegener and Ali Koumelis.
“Almost, almost. We fought so hard and never gave up,” Rader said. “We went in wanting to give them a good fight and take a game.”
The Bruins did and left knowing they’re capable of playing with/beating anyone, a positive lead-in to next week’s revenge match with Oak Ridge which defeated Ponderosa 3-2 the first time.
“We’re really looking forward to Oak Ridge,” said libero Morgan O’Neill and setter Kylie Christensen. “We were such underdogs tonight but we thought ‘let’s give this a try’ and it felt so good.”
Ponderosa stayed right with St. Francis in the first set thanks to middle blocker Lauren Williams before the visitors pulled away from a 19-19 score.
The Bruins blocked well all match as Sarah Walker, Bowles, Rader and Williams stood tall in the face of the Troubadour hits.
As Christensen and Nicole Banke made the sets and O’Neill (25 digs) and the defense tightened, Ponderosa won the thrilling second set as Williams’ kill tied it at 25s, Rader’s kill after Walker’s block put the Bruins up and Christensen’s push to the back won it.
Ponderosa quickly fell behind 5-0 in the third set before surging ahead.
Bowles had 19 kills and Rader 12. Christensen had 22 assists and Banke chipped in with 16. Serve-wise, Bowles landed 4 aces and Banke, 3. Williams blocked 3 spikes and Walker, 2. In service receive, Bowles tallied 28, O’Neill, 27, Rader, 19, and Megan Jones, 9.
Note: Next Monday’s home match against Oak Ridge will be a Dig Pink event. The Bruins encourage friends, fans and the community to come out to support a good cause and see some great intra-county volleyball action.