Hillgals send Bruins home in a hurry

Placer uses balanced attack to sweep visiting Bear River
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The Placer High girls volleyball team often chants its favorite line from MTV’s “Rob and Big” before taking the court. “Do work!” On Tuesday at Earl Crabbe Gym, they should have added “quick” to their cheer. The Hillgals didn’t waste much time in dispatching of Pioneer Valley League rival Bear River. Placer prevailed 25-14, 25-23, 25-21 to improve to 2-0 in the PVL. “We absolutely wanted to sweep. One of our goals this year is for everybody to play from start to finish,” Placer coach Jennifer Wright said. “If we can sweep, that’s what we want to do.” The Hillgals took control from the outset. Senior Shelby Madigan set the tone with an emphatic kill for Placer’s first point. Christina Francis provided a spark at the service line late in Game 1 and the Hillgals easily closed out the opener. The Bruins (0-2 PVL) again fell behind early in Game 2. Junior Kathryn Reale caught fire with all five of her kills in the second game and she added an ace as the Hillgals fought off a late comeback. Bear River senior Katie Heemstra came alive in Game 3. Her block gave the Bruins a 12-7 lead, but Placer came back to take the lead on an ace by Kelsey Lardner to make it 14-13. The Bruins’ Shayna Caravelli had a kill to put Bear River its final lead before the Hillgals pulled away. Melissa Stoll had a pair of kills in the clutch to help Placer seal the sweep. For the second straight match, Bear River was unable to establish a rhythm on the road. “When you play good teams on the road, you’ve got to come out with a little more energy,” Bear River coach Matt McDonald said. ‘We obviously turned it on, but the momentum was already going their way.” Junior Colleen Stafford was all over the court for Placer, finishing with 10 kills, 19 assists and two blocks. Madigan finished with nine kills and three blocks. Sydney Leftridge hustled for 17 digs and Kelsey Lardner tossed in 18 assists. Reale said the key to the victory was Placer’s focus throughout the match. “We just played our game, played like we know how to play,” she said. Placer finished the non-league schedule with a lackluster 2-2 record, but faced some tough competition along the way. “We felt like the preseason just made us better,” Reale said. Bear River senior Tori Humbard had five kills while Jocelyn Fry added four. Rachel Cummings hit the deck for 16 digs. The Bruins entered the PVL campaign with high hopes after a 4-3 non-league run that included wins over Oakmont and Del Campo. Despite losing to their two foothill rivals to begin league play, the Bruins remain optimistic about the prospects for the rest of the season. “We were tested (in the non-league schedule) and that’s something we wanted,” McDonald said. “We felt confident coming in and we’ve got a lot of season left. We’re already starting to think about Lincoln Thursday.”