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Bear River volleyball wins section title

By: Garrett Johnston / Special to the Journal
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The Bear River Bruins girls volleyball team won the CIF Sac-Joaquin section Div. IV final Thursday night at UC Davis against the Ripon Christian Knights.
 
The championship was the first won by Bear River since 1981 and places them in the regional playoffs, which Bear River will host on Tuesday night at home.
 
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Bruins head coach Matt MacDonald said. “I’m so proud of these girls. It’s amazing. Won’t be sleeping tonight that’s for sure.”
 
The Bruins won the match by taking three out of four games: 25-22, 20-25, 25-19, 25-23.
 
The Bruins got off to a hot start in the first game on the strength of senior Kaya Johnson’s serving. Johnson and her Bruin teammates won eight points in a row on her
service run and quickly led 10-1.
 
The first game would tighten up thanks to some timely hitting from Ripon Christian’s Brandie Shelton but the Bruins would eventually prevail to the tune of 25-22.
 
Game two was much closer throughout, as the Bruins and Knights battled back and forth. The Knights grabbed a 7-3 lead with an emphatic spike from Shelton but the
Bruins caught up and see-sawed with their opponent until the Knights eventually won 25-20 on a resounding ace from Brittany Petlansky.
 
Bear River senior Sara Schell got the Bruins off to an 11-5 lead in the third game on an impressive service run of her own that also lasted eight points. The Knights tightened it up with their tremendous hitting but would fall 25-19.
 
Bear River wrapped up the match and the Div. IV title with a nail-bitter victory in the fourth game. Schell contributed ten kills in the fourth and Johnson added 15 clutch
assists to help the Bruins win this title game after they fell short in last year’s Div. IV final to Union Mine.
 
For MacDonald, it was a special to breakthrough this time around.
 
“All offseason we were talking about it,” MacDonald said. “We wanted to get back (here). Fortunately we were able to do it.”
 
Schell believes that last year’s experience provided just the right motivation for the Bruins.
 
“We learned a lot coming here last year and I think it made us better and more prepared for this year,” Schell said.
 
“My team wanted this so bad,” said Schell, who had 18 kills on the night.
 
Kaya Johnson finished with a match-high 37 assists and five aces for the Bruins, while junior Kirsten Pereira added 13 kills.
 
“Serve and pass is the game,” Ripon Christian head coach Tiger Shelton said. “They served and passed better than we did and they’re the 3-1 winners.”
 
For the nine seniors on the Bruins roster, their last hurrah continues another day into Tuesday's regional.