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Trojans off to unbeaten start to season

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High’s varsity boys’ volleyball team has beat all comers in early season non-league matches. The Trojans have defeated Jesuit, Del Oro, Oakmont, Sacramento and Laguna Creek, as well as Rio Linda and Placer last week. The three-game win over Placer on Friday was the top win thus far, according to coach Tom Van Der Wende. Oak Ridge won the match, 25-20, 25-20 and 25-15. "So far I’ve liked what I’ve seen, but until Friday we really hadn’t played a strong team,” Van Der Wende said. “That’s why I was so pleased because we stepped up and played with Placer, who’s a very good team. “I was very pleased with our defense, as we had lots of blocks. Offensively, we were very sharp and smart in hitting around blocks and tipping.” Oak Ridge trailed Placer by six points early in the second game, but battled back for the win. Defensively, middle blockers Craig Sutter and Jonathan Tuttle led the way with several blocks, as opposite Derek Ingram also blocked well, according to Van Der Wende. Josh Nelson and Andrew Kasabian played well in the back, digging many of Placer’s hits. On the offensive side, Sutter again played well with several kills in the middle, as Michael Ricks hit well on the outside, as did Sean Bassemier. Oak Ridge captain Bryce Hunsaker also set the ball well to the hitters. Though it’s early in the season, Van Der Wende has got a pretty good read on his team. “I think our defense will be our strength. We’re looking pretty good and I’m really pleased. We’re not the biggest team, so offensively, we’re going to have to be smarter and hit around blocks and mix up our shots.” While Van Der Wende isn’t exactly sure what other teams in the Sierra Valley Conference have returning, he feels he’s got a team who will compete with everyone. “It’s going to be very tight in league play, but I feel we’ve got a good chance to do well,” Van Der Wende said. “We’ll be in the mix.” After playing Union Mine on Tuesday, the Trojans play host to El Dorado on Thursday.