Bear River conquers Placer

Hillgals hold out hope for a share of their fourth straight league title
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The vicious cycle of rivalry at the top of the Pioneer Valley League volleyball standings stayed true to form Wednesday night, much to the dismay of Placer High fans packed into Earl Crabbe Gym. The Hillgals now must hold out hope that the pattern continues for one more night. Bear River outplayed Placer all the way around in a 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 victory to clinch at least a share of the school’s first volleyball title since 1998. The Bruins swept the season series from the three-time defending PVL champions. Coach Matt McDonald said the difference in Wednesday’s match was his team’s poise and maturity as the Bruins closed out each game in convincing fashion. Junior Sara Schell led the balanced Bruins (7-1 PVL) with 12 kills. “I’m a nervous wreck, I barely slept last night and they are calm and joking around,” McDonald said. “They came out like it was the (preseason) foundation game. We played a very good first game and we made very good reads all night and played great defense.” Placer was plagued by uncharacteristic errors throughout the match. Senior Erin Ellner was outstanding for the Hillgals, finishing with eight kills, two blocks and one ace. But the home team could not build momentum as Bear River’s defense came up big. “We made a ton of errors and we just didn’t’ have the consistency that we normally do from some of our players,” Placer coach Jennifer Wright said. “Kudos to Bear River. They played with a lot of intensity and they played outstanding defense.” Bruin libero Hannah Mosman was a digging machine in the back row. Meanwhile Bear River’s Kirsten Periera, Schell and Tomkiewicz made it tough for the Placer hitters to find open lanes. Junior setter Kaya Johnson spread the ball around for the Bruins, who also got nice contributions from Amanda Clark and Teryn Rath. The Hillgals rallied in the first game to tie it at 22. But a kill from Schell gave Bear River the lead and Katie Tomkiewicz ended the opener with a big solo block. Placer led for much of Game 2 before a kill by Periera tied the game at 22. This time it was Schell who came up with a timely block before the game ended on a Placer error. The Bruins built six-point lead midway through Game 3 and never looked back. They celebrated by tearing down a gold and green banner on the Placer side that read, “Ruin the Bruins.” Placer will be rooting for Colfax on Monday when the Falcons visit Bear River. The Bruins lost to Colfax earlier this month. Assuming Placer and Colfax win their other remaining matches, another Bear River loss would leave all three rivals tied for the league championship. “A league title is a huge deal for us,” Schell said. “Now we’re ready to go into the Colfax match and beat them, like we know we can. That would make the season perfect.” In junior varsity action, Placer fought off Bear River for a 25-8, 24-26, 15-7 win to remain unbeaten in the PVL at 8-0.