Lady Trojans' season over after loss to Salinas

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge Athletic Director Steve White has a sign in his office which reads: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” There will be some tears shed in El Dorado Hills tonight from players on the Oak Ridge varsity girls’ volleyball team, but by the weekend those same girls will be smiling. The Lady Trojans lost in the finals of the Northern California playoffs on Tuesday, falling to Salinas in four games. Oak Ridge won the first game and looked good doing so, 25-22, but then lost three straight 25-22, 25-17 and 28-26. “We just made too many errors in all facets of the game,” Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter said. “It’s a lot easier to lose if we’re 100 percent on our game, but we weren’t. It was an off-night for us, unfortunately.” Oak Ridge senior setter Brittney Larsen agreed. “It was not a good game for us,” Larsen said. “We did not play our best. In the second and third games we stopped talking and stopped passing. I think we got complacent.” Things were going Oak Ridge’s way early. The offense was coming from every direction with bombs outside from Kayla Berringer, Lena Buckendorf and Katie Vaughn, Larsen’s tips on the second hit and Sarah Horning and Haley Simmons contributing in the middle. Alexa Becker was also strong in the back row for the Lady Trojans. Salinas last saw the lead when the game was tied at 10, but Oak Ridge opened up a 16-11 lead from there and it never got closer than two points after that. Oak Ridge continued to play well in game two, working up a 15-11 lead, but then lost it. Salinas tied the game at 16 and the teams went back-and-forth all the way up to a 22-22 score. Three straight errors from Oak Ridge gave Salinas a 25-22 victory. The third game didn’t go much better for the Lady Trojans. They led briefly 6-4 and tied the game at nine, but never grabbed the lead after that. The game remained close with Oak Ridge trailing 16-14, but Salinas pulled away from there to win it convincingly 25-17. “I feel like we were worrying about making mistakes instead of working together like we normally do,” Simmons said. “We didn’t do that tonight.” Oak Ridge led 9-7 early in game four, but couldn’t pull away from Salinas. The Cowboys worked up three-point leads on five different occasions but Oak Ridge kept fighting, finally tying the game at 21. Following a kill by Simmons, Oak Ridge had the first chance to win the game leading 24-23, but couldn’t do it. Salinas then led 25-24, but another Simmons’ kill kept the Lady Trojans in the match. Larsen’s tip then put Oak Ridge up 26-25, but another Salinas kill tied the game. The Cowboys then won the last two points to finish off Oak Ridge, 28-26. “Any other day it could have went our way,” Berringer said, fighting back the tears. “We got quiet in the second and third games and didn’t talk as much.” Despite the bitterly disappointing loss, it was a great season for the Lady Trojans. “We made school history this year and this team is like a family,” Berringer said. “We gave our hearts to the team and didn’t want to settle for anything short of our best. It was an amazing season, a season to remember.”