Bruins out for the kill

Bear River Volleyball brings back a veteran team
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Competition on the volleyball court is at a rolling boil in the Pioneer Valley League. As the Bear River Bruins head into the 2011-2012 season they are bringing an experienced team into the mix, and hoping to dethrone powerhouses Placer and Colfax. Only two players from last year’s varsity team graduated. That means all-league outside hitters Sara Schell and Katie Tomkiewicz, both seniors, are returning to the court, as are honorable mentions junior Kaya Johnson and senior Hannah Mosman. Coach Matt McDonald said his team is fully loaded and seasoned to perfection. “Last year was really a break out year for us. It was our first year in eight years making the playoffs,” McDonald said. “For us, a league title is realistic.” Bear River also had their most wins ever, going 29-14 overall and 7-3 in Pioneer Valley League play. Reveling in the successes of last season, but looking ahead to the season at hand, McDonald said the Bruins have all the right pieces to make it to the post-season. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious showdowns ahead. “This league should be the most competitive it has been since I’ve been here,” McDonald said. “We’ve all been pretty young. Sara and Katie rank in the top 10 in kills.” One common goal the Bruins have is to beat Placer. To do that, McDonald beefed up the team’s preseason games. “Placer is still kind of the team to beat. We really increased our pre-season schedule,” McDonald said. “Our biggest strength is on serving. We are really aggressive at the service line.” Schell said she is predicting good things for Bear River this year. “I think we are going to be the best team since I have been in high school,” Schell said. “We have been working hard and changing things up. We changed our defense and offense too. It’s a faster offense.” The Bruins still have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder from losing to Colfax last year. Schell said they will channel that into their quest for the PVL crown. “Colfax beat us at home. It was a heartbreak because it put us in third for league,” Schell said. Tomkiewicz agrees that beating Colfax is among her top priorities for the season. Sometimes that means McDonald and assistant coach Cindy Gordon have to dish out a little tough love. “They are both really good coaches. They will make us do it over and over again until we get it,” Tomkiewicz said. “I’m really excited to see how we compete against Colfax and Placer.” To kick the season off Bear River will face-off against Rio Linda at 7 p.m, Aug. 29, at Bear River. Reach Sara Seyydin at For the latest in Journal Sports follow us on Twitter @PlacerSports.