Lady Trojans sweep Miners for second straight section crown

By: Matt Long
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For the second straight year, Oak Ridge High’s varsity girls’ volleyball team is section champions. Last year Oak Ridge swept St. Francis for the Division II title and on Thursday, the Lady Trojans did the same to Nevada Union to win the Division I title, 25-19, 25-23 and 28-26. Oak Ridge played solidly throughout, leading much of the first two games. Though the final scores were close, the Lady Trojans enjoyed leads late in the matches. The last tie of the first game was at 11 and Oak Ridge won the next point on a Haley Simmons kill and never trailed the rest of the way. In the second game, though the final score was close, 25-23, the last time Nevada Union saw the lead was when the score was tied at four. Oak Ridge played consistently well, hitting their spots on offense and making nice digs on defense. Oak Ridge was getting offense from the normal sources, outside hitters Kayla Berringer and Katie Vaughn. Lena Buckendorf chipped in occasionally and Sarah Horning and Haley Simmons played particularly well inside. Brittney Larsen’s sets were on target most of the night and Alexa Becker played solidly in the back. Nevada Union played its best in the final game, leading 10-9 and extending it to five on three occasions, the final time being 19-14. With the Miners only six points away from sending the match to a fourth game, Oak Ridge came on strong, cutting the lead to four on a Vaughn kill that the Miners couldn’t fully block. Larsen then had an ace to cut the lead to three, 19-16. Oak Ridge was then on a lucky end of a questionable ruling by the referee. Nevada Union’s kill attempt was ruled out of bounds, which made it a two-point match and allowed momentum to continue to build for the Lady Trojans. Oak Ridge scored the next three points to finish a 6-0 run to make the score 20-19 and the points all came on errors by Nevada Union: two balls were hit out of bounds and the third didn’t make it over the net. The game’s final minutes were a see-saw affair, which featured seven ties three lead changes. Nevada Union led 24-23, but a Vaughn kill kept the Lady Trojans in the match. Oak Ridge then led 25-24, but an errant served tied the game back at 25. Berringer’s tip put Oak Ridge out in front by one, but a Nevada Union kill down the line tied the game once again. After Nevada Union failed to get the ball over the net, Oak Ridge put the match away on a hit by Simmons, which awkwardly fell to the court after hitting off a Nevada Union player. It was the second straight section title for the school and the second for Becky Potter in her two years as head coach at Oak Ridge. “I just stand there and clap,” Potter said jokingly. “I really liked our positive energy tonight. Everyone got along and was cool, calm and collected and that’s what I’ve been looking for. “It was absolutely a team effort. It takes all 14 girls and all their roles are important to the success of the team.” Becker added, “We played really well, especially coming back to win that last game. We just believed in each other.” A key tonight was the Oak Ridge offense out of the middle, which made it easier for Larsen to mix up the offense. “I got some good sets from Brittney, which came from good passes in the back, and that led to good hits,” Simmons said. The slump the team was in during the middle portion of the season seems so long ago. “We just came together as a team,” Simmons said of the turnaround. “No matter what’s happening with the team off the court, when we step on the court we’re one big family.” Oak Ridge will open the Nor-Cal playoffs on Tuesday.