Oakmont volleyball surging toward the postseasonBy: Nick Pecoraro
AUBURN– For a team that started the season 1-6, the tables have certainly turned. The Oakmont girls volleyball team has been on a roll since Foothill Valley League play began and could challenge for a league championship next week.
The Lady Vikings handed Placer a 23-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21 loss in Auburn Wednesday to improve to 7-1 in FVL play with just two games remaining. Oakmont was led by sophomore Emma Hirsch, who had 10 kills and three blocks, and senior Aly Gallego, who had nine kills.
Oakmont sits behind only Ponderosa, who is 8-0 and the No. 2 team in Maxpreps’ Top 25 in the Sac-Joaquin Section at 25-2 overall.
Oakmont head coach Devon Quok said her team is making the most of its young roster, which features just two seniors with three juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.
“I honestly didn’t really expect to be doing as well as we are now,” said Quok. “It’s a huge deal that we’re doing this well early on.”
The Lady Vikings are led by underclassmen in most of the major statistical categories, including freshmen Dani Hirsch (team leader in kills) and Ella Pock (team leader in blocks) and sophomores Kate MacPherson (assists) and Jordyn Pahkim (digs). Dani’s sophomore sister, Emma Hirsch is second on the team in kills.
Mix in senior leadership from Gallego and Amanda Raigosa and Viking volleyball is suddenly a sleeper for the postseason.
“We have many go-tos,” said Quok. “If one person is off, we have somewhere else to go.”
Since Sept. 11, Oakmont has won 12 of its last 14 matches, including two wins over Nevada Union, a Top 25 team in the section.
“I think (the first Nevada Union win) was a turning point for us,” said Quok. “That’s when I started to think, ‘I think we’re gonna be okay.’”
Placer, meanwhile, is fighting for its playoff livelihood. At 3-5 in the FVL, the Lady Hillmen are in a three-way tie for third in the league with Lincoln and Nevada Union. But Placer has lost six of its last seven, including a non-league makeup game Thursday night against Rio Americano, 15-25, 9-25, 22-25.
“If we win one of the last two, I think we’ll finish fourth in our league,” said Placer head coach Jen Wright. “Since it’s a tough league… maybe we will get lucky and get in.”
Placer (8-12), who does hold a key win over Nevada Union from Sept. 17, goes to Ponderosa Monday and finishes the regular season Wednesday at home against Lincoln.
Oakmont (16-11) hosts Rio Linda Monday before Wednesday’s potential league-decider against Ponderosa.
“I just want Wednesday to come,” said Quok. “It will be an exciting day.”