El Dorado High’s varsity Lady Cougar volleyball program dropped three straight games at home Thursday evening, falling to an undefeated Vista del Lago squad in Sierra Valley Conference action.
The Cougars, coming into Thursday’s match with some big momentum after back-to-back 3-0 victories over Galt and River City, looked to give the Eagles their first conference last — and overcome Vista’s stubborn defense.
“I don’t think Vista is an unbeatable team,” head coach Sharon Hardy said. “I think that they play very well together as a team defensively.”
Vista has relied heavily on senior Kelsey Sampson for the bulk of its offense. Hardy and Co. came into Thursday’s match intent on an upset, and knew that penetrating the Eagle defense would be a must in building a victory. Senior Kylie Hardy distributed well in all three games — giving freshman outside hitter Kylie Haverson an opportunity to take it straight at Vista from the start.
The effort and determination paid off, as El Dorado forced Vista to scratch through game one en route to a 25-19 win. The game was a series of counter-balancing streaks — the Cougars found themselves on the hard side of 5-0 Eagle streak, only to take a stand and scrap their way back into it.
“El Dorado has a good program,” Vista head coach Patrick Sanders said. “ Sharon (Hardy) has done a great job for them coming in like that at the beginning of the year. These games went back and forth, you know. We’d go on a streak and get five points quick, and they’d come right back and get three or four.”
After a game one where no dominance was established, El Dorado turned up the heat in game two, throwing Vista back on its heels — at one point leading 23-19 before the Eagles capitalized on a small medley of Cougar mistakes and pulled the 25-23 comeback. Kylie Hardy was immaculate in her distribution, allowing Haverson to open up form above the net, while El Dorado’s defense made the digs and blocks expected of a high-caliber team.
“You’ve got to give them (El Dorado) credit for putting us that position,” Sanders said. “We’ve worked on a lot ourselves this year, and we’re a pretty scrappy team — but El Dorado is a very scrappy team as well and they really showed improvement the second time around. El Dorado battled back in all three games, and had us on our heels for a minute in the second game.”
Despite putting Vista on the ropes in game two, El Dorado suffered from some errant play in the clutch finale of the game — a blow the Cougars couldn’t quite recover from in game three, which Vista closed off in 25-17 fashion.
“We’ve been working hard,” Hardy said. “We’re trying to become better passers. I think we’ve really improved throughout the season, and I’m just hoping we can finish strong in these final weeks heading towards playoffs.”
El Dorado will take on Cosumnes Oaks and Liberty Ranch this week, before closing out the regular season October 30 at home hosting Union Mine. As Union Mine and El Dorado are in a full sprint for second place — and it will be Senior Night at El Dorado — the match is highly anticipated around the league.
“That’s going to be an exciting match,” Sanders said. “I almost wish we didn’t have a match that day. I don’t go out often and watch other teams play, but the El Dorado and Union Mine match — that’s something I wish I could go see. It’s going to be exciting.”
El Dorado lost its last battle with Union Mine 3-1 in the Snake Pit. Hardy and the Cougars are looking to change that the second time around.
“We didn’t pass well (against Union Mine),” Hardy said. “I think player-for-player, we can compete with Union Mine very well.”