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Reaching high above the rest

Trojans still seeking for best performance
By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High’s varsity boys’ volleyball team has won 22 matches and lost seven, but it’s those seven losses that stick in coach Tom Van Der Wende’s mind. In most of those seven losses, Van Der Wende feels his team should have won and he can’t quite figure out what’s wrong. “This is the most individual talent I’ve had in the last four years, but the team’s talent is not there and I can’t figure it out,” Van Der Wende said. “We haven’t been able to step up when we need to to beat teams. We’ve been struggling with it all season.” Case in point came Saturday at the Chico Tournament. The Trojans breezed through pool play, defeating Grant, Rio Linda and Valley Christian all in two straight games. In the medal round, the Trojans faced Pleasant Valley, a team they beat in three games earlier this season and this time dropped two out the three and were eliminated from the tournament. “It’s a beatable team that we beat earlier in the season,” Van Der Wende said. “We just weren’t clicking. We missed too many serves for sure. We gave up points we normally don’t give up. We didn’t play smart by hitting into their block and we didn’t close out our own blocks.” Oak Ridge did have a good week in league play, however, easily defeating Sheldon and Folsom last week to improve to 4-1 in the Delta River League. The Trojans beat Sheldon on Thursday, 25-20, 25-18 and 25-17. Jonathan Tuttle led Oak Ridge in hitting with 11 kills, while Tim Spykerman added five. Storm Van Soldt had two serving aces and Spykerman added two blocks. Nate Lambert made 16 digs to Tuttle’s nine. Connor Blakeman made 16 assists, while Connor Dunham had 14. Two days earlier Oak Ridge defeated Folsom 25-17, 25-19 and 25-23. Tuttle had 16 kills, four aces and 16 digs to lead the way for the Trojans, while also making two blocks, as did Chris Gomm and Tim Smorlarski. Jack Hoisington added 10 kills and Nate Lambert contributed 12 digs. Connor Dunham led the way with 23 assists, while Connor Blakeman chipped in 14. Oak Ridge’s next match is at home against Ponderosa on Tuesday.