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Hillgals roar their way to victory

The Placer High girls volleyball team showed it's for real this season with a win over Colfax
By: Joshua Ansley Journal Sports Writer
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COLFAX - The only thing that could be heard over the deafening Placer High cheering section at Colfax High was junior Michaela Leonard’s vicious spikes as the Hillgals volleyball team defeated Colfax 25-18, 25-23, 25-19 on Tuesday. Nothing came easy on either side of the net. As soon as it appeared the Hillgals were going to run away with a game, the Falcons would come back to even the score or take the lead. Ultimately, Placer remained one step ahead all night long. Leonard said Placer’s defensive success was a result of being deliberate with the ball rather than trying to overpower a very talented Colfax squad. “We knew they (Colfax) had a quick offense,” Leonard said. “So we knew we would have to be strategic about our placement. We couldn’t just power through.” “Their setter runs a great offense,” added coach Jennifer Wright. “We knew we would have to really key in on her.” Even with Placer focused on her, Colfax junior Haley Biles still managed to finish with 19 assists for Colfax, along with three blocks, nine service points, and three aces. The Falcons started Game 1 strong, taking an early 5-3 lead before Leonard stepped back to serve, and Placer scored four unanswered points. The Hillgals maintained the lead from there on out behind strong play at the net by 6-foot sophomore middle blocker Kellyn Mcdonald, who finished with four blocks and three kills. Game 2 was a battle. The game featured seven ties and four lead changes. With the score tied at 8-8, the Falcons surged forward with a the lead until Placer came back to tie the game at 15-15 behind a couple of powerful kills by Leonard. By then the momentum had shifted back to the Hillgals, who would go on to win the closest game of the night, 25-23. After such a contested Game 2, Colfax fell behind early in Game 3 and was unable to recover. Up 20-12 at one point, Placer led the entire game. Even after the Falcons put together six straight points to make the score 23-17, the Hillgals were too close to victory to let it slip away. Following a Leonard kill, Placer scored its final point off of a misplaced Falcons serve, making the final score 25-19. Leonard, who had 13 kills and five aces on the night, led Placer. Second in kills was sophomore Kirsten Schauble with six to go along with 12 assists. Junior Gabby Orteza led the way with 18 assists and senior Emma Oehler was a force on defense coming up with 15 digs. On the Colfax side junior Iona Lofrano finished with five kills and two blocks while team captain Erica Heikila had six kills, three blocks, and came up with nine digs. Juniors Ashley Scott and Maggie Aubachon did all they could to keep Colfax in the game. Aubachon had 14 digs and Scott had 4 kills. Colfax will be at Center on Wednesday looking to rebound from the tough loss. Placer will be at home on Wednesday as the team takes on Bear River. The Bruins are 20-7 overall. Although the Colfax offense was a focal point on Tuesday night, Leonard added that Bear River’s offense won’t be easy to handle either. “I think they have a really great offense,” Leonard said. “So we have to be even quicker on defense. I think we’ll be ready.”