Placer’s comeback stuns Colfax

Hillgals rally from 2-0 deficit to take the lead in PVL
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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COLFAX — Jennifer Wright has never won a volleyball match at Colfax High, so she wasn’t sure how to react Thursday night. The Placer coach ran onto the court, jumped up and down and hollered for joy with her team. The celebration was appropriate considering the long odds the Hillgals faced about an hour earlier. Placer rallied from a two-game hole to win 22-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-16, 15-13 in a classic battle between the Pioneer Valley League rivals. “We talked it over and we felt like we could do so much better as a team,” Placer junior Christina Francis said. “We just said we’re not going to lose. It feels amazing.” The Hillgals trailed 20-18 in Game 3, but Colfax committed four straight errors as the visitors jumped in front. Francis had a key block in the clutch and Kathryn Reale’s block sealed the game for Placer. Game 4 was all Placer as the Falcons were plagued by hitting errors and frustrated by the Hillgals’ relentless defense. In Game 5, Colfax took a 7-5 lead, but a kill from Breanna Prior and an ace by Reale tied the game. Colfax’s Kayla Giles pounded her 15th kill of the evening to give the Falcons their final lead of the night at 11-10. Colleen Stafford’s kill put Placer ahead 12-11 and Melissa Stoll finished off the comeback with a kill. Stafford was tremendous for Placer all match. The junior transfer from Granite Bay had eight kills, three aces and set up the Hillgals’ attack with some great setting. “Volleyball’s such a mental thing – you can go up and down,” Stafford said. “In the second game we came back from a really low score and after that we just stayed up.” The Falcons were stellar in the first two games, even without senior Heidi Graves, who went down just three points into the game after landing awkwardly under the net after a spike. She suffered a knee injury, but Colfax coach Vicky Satterlee wasn’t sure of her prognosis Thursday night. “Heidi’s injury put a lot more pressure on our other big hitters,” Satterlee said. “I think we wore out our hitters early on. We gave a good team a chance to get new life and that’s what they did. The wind came out of our sails when we didn’t finish them in three.” Senior Hannah Baldwin had six kills and five blocks for the Falcons (4-1 PVL). Cassandra Campbell added eight kills for Colfax. Placer got contributions from all over the court. Senior Sydney Leftridge was spectacular at libero. Prior finished with six big kills and Francis had seven blocks to key the Hillgals’ defense. Shelby Madigan fought through a swollen knee of her own to come up with two big blocks in the decisive Game 5. Stafford has emerged as a force for Placer (5-0 PVL), which took a big step toward an outright PVL title with a huge road win. “Honestly this is my favorite team I’ve ever played on,” Stafford said. “We want this league championship so bad.”