Del Oro sails into semifinal
LOOMIS — The Del Oro High volleyball team dug deep and overcame Ponderosa’s fury to pin down a 3-1 victory Thursday night and advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals.
The Golden Eagles seemed to be on their way to an easy victory, picking up two wins right off the bat, until the Bruins started fighting back in the third game. With the momentum shift the visitors picked up a close 25-23 win.
Del Oro regrouped and decided to hold them in four games. Junior Stephanie Solich led with 14 kills. Junior Morgan Lees was right behind her teammate, with 12 kills. She said the turnaround was mental.
“Our senior leadership told us, ‘Don’t go to five,’” Solich said. “We knew what we had to do and we kept them to four. Tatum Jungsten pumped us all up and gave us the will to fight.”
After their rejuvenation the Golden Eagles had to fight every second of game four. Ponderosa senior Lianna Sybeldon gave Del Oro some trouble with her on-point hitting, but Del Oro’s resolve finally prevailed, 28-26. Sybeldon said the Bruins decided not to go down without a fight.
“I think it kind of occurred to us it was our last game,” Sybeldon said.
Ponderosa coach Sheri Millhollin said Ponderosa’s bite came a little too late.
“It took us awhile to get momentum,” Millhollin said. “I really was proud of our girls. We just decided in the third game we were going to fight.”
Del Oro sophomore Amy Heyn led with 38 assists. Her sister, Amanda, also plays for Del Oro.
“It felt really great because this was such a big game,” Amy Heyn said. “It’s been really cool playing with her. Since we are two years apart it isn’t usual that we play together.”
Senior libero Megan Hentschke was a rock for the team, passing and diving all over the court.
Del Oro coach Stuart Kageta said Ponderosa beat Del Oro earlier this year.
“For all of us, it’s exciting because they beat us earlier in the season 3-0,” Kageta said. “We talked about staying in the moment.”
Moving forward Del Oro will take on El Camino for the third year in the row in the semifinals. Kageta is hoping the third time will be the charm because he considers both teams strong.
“It’ll be a great match. There won’t be any surprises,” Kageta said.
Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.