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Hillgals, Falcons battle powers in semifinals

Sac-Joaquin Section Volleyball Playoffs
By: Journal Sports Staff
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The Placer High volleyball team meets a familiar foe in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals tonight. Forest Lake Christian will battle an established postseason power of its own in Division V. The Hillgals and Falcons return to the court tonight, where a win can send each to their respective title match Thursday at UC Davis. No. 5 Placer (18-8) travels to Stockton to take on top Division III seed St. Mary’s (17-7). The Hillgals are more than familiar with the defending champion Rams (17-7). St. Mary’s swept Placer in the semifinals last year en route to its third straight section championship. The Rams also swept the Hillgals in the 2007 quarterfinals. “We’re pretty motivated,” Placer head coach Jennifer Wright said. “Each year we see a different team there and each year we bring a different team down. I’m hoping this is the year my girls really give them a fight.” St. Mary’s features no seniors and has won five straight matches since a four-game loss to Nevada Union on Oct. 26. “We’re expecting strong, fast and well-balanced,” Wright said. “We have to go down there and bring our ‘A’ game. If we don’t it’s going to be a quick night. I know the girls have it in them and they’re really motivated. We’ve just got to play intense and not make mistakes.” Placer has reached the section final only once, falling to East Union in 1988. They’re in the semifinals for only the third time in school history. In Division V action, No. 6 Forest Lake Christian (16-9) hosts No. 10 Ripon Christian (5-17). The Falcons look to play for their first section crown since 2006, when they were swept by Turlock Christian. The Rams’ record is deceiving, and they’re primed for another title run. They’ve claimed 12 section titles in the last two decades, winning as the No. 7 seed each of the last two years. The Falcons, meanwhile, are seeking their second section crown in school history and first since sweeping Denair in 1998.