Hillgals stretched in opener
Jennifer Wright rode the emotional roller coaster Tuesday night as her Placer High volleyball team ventured into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs against a frisky No. 11 seed.
The Hillgals stumbled in the first game, played close to perfect for two games, then sweated out a thrilling fourth game to fend off Whitney in the Division III bracket. No. 6 Placer will travel to No. 3 Rosemont for a quarterfinal match on Thursday.
“I think in the last game we thought we had it,” Wright said. “We were a little off-kilter. But it’s a credit to them for staying together and focusing back in. On this team when we’re down we tend to have each other’s backs.”
Placer won 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 28-26 over the Wildcats, a former rival in the Pioneer Valley League. Whitney’s star 6-2 middle blocker Kaylin Squyres did not make it easy for the Hillgals.
The visitors held on to win Game 1 despite a late charge from Placer. In Game 2, senior Renee Wire helped the Hillgals pull away as she served up six straight points to make it 13-5. Senior Michaela Leonard added three aces in the second game.
Game 3 was more of the same from Placer as Erin Ellner sparked an 8-0 run with her lone block of the game. Wire again served six points in a row while Lauren Collins and Kellyn McDonald dominated at the net.
Whitney rallied in the fourth game and the match looked destined to go the distance. Placer trailed 12-4, but rallied to pull within two points at 13-11. But the Wildcats built the cushion back to five points at 22-17. Ellner came up with a key kill and Kirstin Schauble had three of her team-high 14 kills in the final six points as Placer finished out the win. Wire’s dig landed untouched on Whitney’s side of the net for the go-ahead point and Leonard dropped the final kill — her eighth of the match.
Ellner, a senior middle hitter, said the Hillgals did not panic after dropping the opening game.
“We had a team talk and we knew we had to pick it up,” said Ellner, who finished with 10 kills. We knew what (Squyres) was going to do, so we pressed her and we did a better job on her.”
Squyres, who is committed to play at UC Davis next fall, finished with 17 kills and four aces to lead the Wildcats.
Placer (19-8) played without sophomore starter Becky Matthews, who was home with the flu. The Hillgals are excited to face the Metro League champion Wolverines on Thursday. A win would set up a possible rematch with Vista Del Lago in the semifinals on Tuesday with the winner advancing to the finals at UC Davis.
“Our goal all year long has been to get to Davis,” Wright said.
Del Oro 3, Folsom 0 at Loomis — The Golden Eagles didn’t give the Bulldogs a chance as they cruised into the second round of the Division II playoffs with a 25-16, 25-13, 25-23 win.
Del Oro will be back at home Thursday to take on Ponderosa in a section quarterfinal at 7 p.m.
Morgan Lees had 14 kills and 12 digs to pace the Eagles (19-10). Stephanie Solich added 12 kills and three aces while Tatum Jungsten had seven kills, 12 points served and two blocks.
Megan Hentschke was perfect on 22 passes and added 21 digs from the back row. Amy Heyn dished out 33 assists and was 15-for-15 serving with 10 points.
Bear River 3, Argonaut 0 at Lake of the Pines — The Bruins had no trouble in their first home playoff match since 1998. Bear River won 25-15, 25-18, 25-15.
Senior Katie Tomkiewicz led the balanced effort with 10 kills. Sara Schell had nine kills and Kirsten Pereira added eight kills for Bear River (25-9).
The fifth-seeded Bruins will hit the road Thursday to take on No. 4 Sonora.
Union Mine 3, Colfax 0 at Shingle Springs — The 10th-seeded Falcons fell to the No. 7 Diamondbacks on the road. Colfax finished 24-10 on the season.
Turlock Christian 3, Forest Lake 0 at Lake of the Pines —The Falcons’ season ended at home with a 25-21, 25-15, 25-22 loss to the hard-hitting Eagles.
Sophomore Morgan Koch had an excellent night with seven kills and six blocks to pace Forest Lake (10-7). Aly English added five kills and six assists while Hannah Zea had five kills. Alyssa Smith hustled for nine digs and served up four aces for Forest Lake.