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Oak Ridge warming up for playoffs

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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With Thursday’s Delta River League finale at Folsom, the postseason is almost here. The Oak Ridge varsity boys’ volleyball team has had a strong season, as they opened the week with a 5-1 record in league and a 24-7 mark overall. How they do in the postseason, however, will determine how well the season pans out. After facing Folsom Thursday, Oak Ridge will compete in the Pleasant Tournament on Saturday before the playoffs begin next week. The Trojans are coming off a solid week of volleyball, earning a pair of three-game sweeps, beating archrival Ponderosa on April 26 and then picking up a non-league win over Vista del Lago two days later. On senior night the Trojans gave an improved Vista del Lago team only their second loss in the month of April, 25-17, 32-30, 25-23. All three games were battles Thursday night in the Oak Ridge gymnasium, and that says a lot for a Vista team with less players (eight) as Oak Ridge has seniors (10). Game one had Vista up 13-12, but an Eagles timeout separated one Oak Ridge four-point run from another, transferring the Trojans on top 20-14. Vista earned one point in the final stretch that was not on an Oak Ridge mistake. Aside from Senior Night honors for Oak Ridge fans, the highlight of the night was arguably game two’s extra rallies after Vista pushed a 24-24 tie. With Vista down 21-13, Mills, and sophomore Connor Tevenan led the team to a 17-9 run only to lose under the kills of Jonathan Tuttle. Tuttle posted six kills in the game, three in that final nine-point end. It took seven tie scores to reach Tuttle’s brutal 31-30 kill and an eventual, also questionable line call to escape the Trojans from a fourth game. Game three remained even through the first 20 points. The last tie was at 18-18 and four of the last seven points were missed hits, blocks or sets by Vista. Kills from Dustin Lamy, Mills and Tevenan kept it close, 24-23, but Oak Ridge’s Tim Spykerman had the kill to kill them all to finish the game. Both teams are headed to section playoffs - Oak Ridge still with positioning to fight for, Vista having terrorized the Sierra Valley Conference an unbeaten 11-0. Beating Jesuit (6-0, Delta River League) would make Oak Ridge co-champions in a match played on Tuesday. Jesuit and Oak Ridge then have final league games after the meeting and Trojan coach Tom Van Der Wende said he hopes to have that number one seed. “This was a big night for us,” said Van Der Wende. “All three games got a little crazy. I tried to get my seniors in as much as possible, so it was sort of a hodgepodge lineup at times. It gave everyone a chance to play, but that last game was all seniors only.” Team libero Nathan Lambert gave up the white jersey, tossed on his blue and made a couple kills in the last game. Whether the smile on his face was bigger than the crowd reaction was arguable.