Oakdale drags down Del Oro

By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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OAKDALE — Their hopes fell short, like so many of their serves Tuesday night. After squeaking out a win in the first game, the No. 7 Del Oro High volleyball team failed to find offensive rhythm the rest of the night and fell to No. 3 Oakdale in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal match. The Mustangs won 24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 25-17 in front of a packed Oakdale High gym, advancing to play top seed St. Mary’s for the section title Thursday night in Davis. Del Oro’s season ended in the semifinal round for the second consecutive year. “The whole night we just weren’t playing the way I’ve seen us play all year, and it’s too bad,” said head coach Stu Kageta. “We definitely felt it was a team we could match up with. We knew what we’re capable of doing and we just weren’t ourselves tonight. I told the girls it felt like there’s unfinished business.” Del Oro led 7-1 in the first game before Oakdale (29-3) mounted a quiet, steady comeback to tie the score at 14 and again at 16 before taking a 20-17 lead. Using her powerful jump serve, Emily Mattevi rattled off four consecutive aces to reverse the deficit and Oakdale four-hit to end a long final rally. Del Oro had a height advantage and balanced firepower, but looked out of sync after the win. The Eagles scored the first three points in a back-and-forth second game. Del Oro last led 15-13, tying the score at 16 and again at 20 on a Mustang error before losing on an unforced error of its own. “Our consistency was off,” Kageta said. “Unforced errors were huge. We could never get in a rhythm because we’d miss a serve by 10 feet or we’d make a good sideout and then give it away. Our serve receive was really inconsistent. We also had a number of missed serving opportunities. I felt like we would have had control of the match if we would have played like we normally play.” Del Oro rallied to tie the third game at 18 before letting it slip away. The Eagles looked lost on the court in the final game, when the Mustangs built an early 13-6 advantage and led by as many as 10 late. “It’s extremely tough,” said Emily Mattevi, who had six kills to finish the year two behind Jamie Russell’s team-leading 174. “We thought we were going to go all the way this year. We really, really wanted to, and being the second year, we’ve been here and had the experience. Losing the third game was really crucial. If we h ad won that, I think it could have been a different outcome.” Rachel Vetterlein had a team-high 10 kills and Russell added six kills and three blocks.Jess Lehner had 24 assists and Maddie Shelby finished with 11 digs for Del Oro, which took third in the SFL behind Division I Nevada Union and Division II Rocklin and finished the season 23-11. “We gave them too many chances,” Kageta said of Oakdale. “They were aggressive, give credit to them. I didn’t think they put that much pressure on us. Really they were no better than any team we faced this year. Rocklin was a more consistent team, (Nevada Union) had more firepower, (Oakdale) just stayed aggressive and we just didn’t bring our best game. I think they put a little too much pressure on themselves.” The Eagles’ lone section volleyball title came in 1979, when Del Oro swept Rio Linda to earn the Division II title.