Lady Trojans advance to Nor-Cal final

Play host to Salinas at 7 p.m. Tuesday for chance to play for state title
By: Matt Long
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Kayla Berringer wasn’t going to let her team lose and Oak Ridge didn’t. The Lady Trojans volleyball team defeated Amador Valley in four games on Saturday to advance to Tuesday’s Northern California final, which they will host at 7 p.m. against Salinas, the tournament’s No. 2 seed behind Oak Ridge. The teams split the first two games, Oak Ridge winning game one, 25-20, before Amador Valley answered with a 25-21 win. The Lady Trojans took the next two to win the match, 25-23 and 25-21. Berringer, Oak Ridge’s top outside hitter who’s headed to the University of North Carolina next fall on a scholarship, routinely pounded balls down the line for winners. “Kayla hit well, but you should have heard her during timeouts,” Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said. “She was not going to lose.” “This match meant so much to me,” Berringer said. “As a senior, this is my last chance to do it. I wanted to step up and lead this team and give it my all.” Berringer, of course, didn’t do it herself, as she shared the court with Katie Vaughn, Lena Buckendorf, Sarah Horning, Haley Simmons, Brittney Larsen and Alexa Becker. Defensively speaking, there were none better than Becker, whose forearms were understandably tender following the game, as the libero kept many Amador Valley kill attempts off the floor. “Alexa, by far, has grown the most of all the players this year,” Potter said. “She played her best.” For her part, Becker was thrilled with both her and her team’s performance. “I’m so excited because Oak Ridge has never gotten this far,” Becker said. “This is one of my better games. The team was a bit shaky in that second game, but we really focused after that.” With Oak Ridge leading game four 21-15 and the hometown fans chanting ‘Nor-Cal finals,’ Becker made a sensational dig of Amador Valley’s high-flying Nicole Baker, which Oak Ridge later turned into a point when the Dons failed to get the ball back over the net. The point increased Oak Ridge’s commanding lead to 22-16. Amador Valley scored five of the next seven points before Oak Ridge clinched it when the Dons failed to hit the ball over the net. “We battled hard tonight because we wanted it so bad,” Berringer said. “We were on our A-game. We made adjustments and were focused on winning.” Oak Ridge led the whole way in game one, leading by as many as seven on the way to a relatively easy 25-20 win. Game two was the opposite, as the Lady Trojans last saw the lead at 8-7. From there the Dons won six straight points and never looked back, winning 25-21. Oak Ridge led game the third game comfortably, 22-15, before the Dons pulled within one three times late in the game. Berringer finished off the game with a kill from the back court. Oak Ridge fell behind very early in the fourth game, 3-1, but regained the lead at 4-3 and never trailed again. The highlight of the game, besides the final point, was Simmons’ three consecutive blocks that put the Lady Trojans up 10-6. The Dons cut the lead to one point twice, the final time coming at 11-10. Oak Ridge worked up a seven-point lead, 18-11, before Amador Valley came storming back. The Dons got as close as 24-21, before Oak Ridge closed the door. “We played well, but I didn’t think we played our best,” Potter said. “We made a lot of mistakes. I think that’s because we were nervous. “I think tonight was good, though. Hopefully, we’ll be calmer on Tuesday and we can still be better and that’s exciting.”