Eagles sweep Union Mine to earn piece of SVC volleyball title

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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With a piece of the Sierra Valley Conference on the line, Vista del Lago’s varsity girls’ volleyball team would not be denied on Wednesday night. On Senior Night in the Eagles’ nest, Vista swept Union Mine in three competitive games, 25-23, 26-24 and 25-21 to earn a piece of the conference title with the Diamondbacks with an 11-1 record. It was an impressive performance considering the Eagles lost to the Diamondbacks in four games in early October. Vista, coming off an outstanding performance over the weekend where it won the Northgate Tournament, carried that momentum into this match. “The girls just really wanted it tonight,” Vista coach Patrick Sanders said. “We were down by seven or eight points in a couple games but we just fought back. The seniors made great contributions on senior night and I couldn't have asked for anything more.” The pivotal first game came down to serving, as the Eagles broke open a close game with eight straight points coming with senior Jessica Sampson on the serving line. Four of the eight points came from aces from Sampson and on all four Union Mine’s back row just stood and watched as the serves hit the hardwood. The Eagles trailed 12-10, but regained control of the serve at 12-11 and then Sampson served for eight straight points to make the score 19-12. The Eagles led comfortably 21-14, only four points from victory, but did nothing as the Diamondbacks came marching right back in the match, eventually tying the score at 23. Junior Kelsey Sampson put the Eagles up by one with a kill, as she was one of several players who contributed throughout the night, and junior Jordan Cryderman secured the win with another ace. Game two didn’t start so well for the Eagles, as they fell behind 7-1 and later trailed 15-7. Vista, however, got back in the match by winning four straight points, three on unforced Diamondback errors and another on a block by Sipiora. From there the Eagles just chipped away, knocking the lead down to three, two and one before finally tying the match at 19 when freshman Kara Campbell’s kill attempt was blocked out of bounds. Vista trailed 23-22 but won two straight points to take a one-point lead. Union Mine tied the match, but Sipiora’s kill in the middle followed by Kelsey Sampson’s kill attempt which was blocked out of bounds gave the Eagles the 26-24 win. Game three was close throughout and was tied late at 19 before the Eagles scored four straight points on a kill by Sipiora, two hitter errors by the Diamondbacks and another kill by Kelsey Sampson. The Diamondbacks earned two straight points with their backs to the wall, but Sipiora finished off the match when Union Mine didn’t get a clean block on her kill and the ball fell to the floor. Sanders was shocked that his team was able to win in three straight. “I didn’t think it would be like this,” Sanders said. “Union Mine has a fantastic program and Mike (Yates) does a great job with them.” Sipiora said energy was the key. “We just stayed positive and kept the energy level up,” said Sipiora. “We have the skill; we have the talent, so that’s why I felt the energy level was the key. I think we’ve played better matches this season, but our heart was great tonight.” Freshman Faith Smith added, “We had a lot of energy tonight and everyone contributed. I can’t set the ball if I don’t get a good pass and then I’m able to set to the best group of hitters in the league. I love my hitters.” Cryderman was impressed with her team’s performance. “I have never seen our team come out that fired up,” Cryderman said. “We knew we had to win tonight.” Seniors Jessica Sampson, Madeline Whitlow, Lencia Kebede and Maddie Kaim played in their final regular season home game, while Kebede also provided a riveting rendition of the National Anthem.