Oak Ridge gets by Folsom in three close games

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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In a meeting between two teams headed for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, the Oak Ridge Lady Trojans turned Senior Night celebrations into a three-set victory over visiting Folsom, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21. Oak Ridge (8-2) went 4-1 in the Delta River League since dropping Folsom in three sets back on Oct. 13, including becoming just the second team to win a league game against unbeaten St. Francis. Folsom (4-6), the only other team which took a set from the Troubadours, brought the competition to its opponents’ home court and forced Oak Ridge to win each game in the final three or four points. Two games between Oak Ridge and Folsom read 2-0 with six straight game wins in favor of the Lady Trojans, but Tuesday night’s game didn’t feel like a clean sweap. The Lady Bulldogs played in their second Senior Night in as many games since celebrating their own with a 3-0 win over Pleasant Grove last week. Folsom coach Cinnamon DaSilva said at one point she thought she’d be doing cartwheels as her team overcame deficits in all three games, but it appeared whichever team reached the magic number 22 first had the advantage in the final few points. The first two games evened at a late 22-22 tie after Folsom had gone down by five points in the first and 10 points in the second. An overturned call kept Folsom close, trailing 22-20 in the first and allowed them to get within one point at 23-22. Arden Zuber and Tara McDermott then stood up back-to-back blocks against Folsom hitter Jaia Lockett and Zuber finished the rally with one of her three kills. Middle blockers Zuber and Haley Simmons got the chance to make their Senior Night memorable as coach Becky Potter put them in hitter positions in the second and third games. Both players were unstoppable from all over the court, hitting at least three kills in each game and separating their team into clutch wins. The Lady Bulldogs played with the wind knocked out of them in the second game and went down 21-11 largely due to the big four Oak Ridge seniors: Zuber, Simmons, Alexa Becker and Stephanie Guest. Lockett’s fourth kill of the game kicked off an 8-0 run which led Folsom to a second 22-22 tie, but lost it in three straight points, 25-22. Tied at 21-21 in the final third game, Folsom’s Shannon Rich came out with three kills. After starting on a 5-0 run, which was their largest lead of the night, the Lady Bulldogs went through seven ties and three lead changes to eventually lose against a Zuber kill and an ace and kill from Mysha Davies. Four-year varsity players Simmons and outside hitter Alexa Becker are the first graduating seniors to play all four years under Potter. They’ve also won two section championships and trips to the postseason in each of the four seasons. “Alexa and I are both are excited that it’s finally our senior year because over the last four years we’ve developed confidence with these players and this program overall,” said Simmons. “It’s weird that it’s our last game at home, but everyone on this team has grown together and I think we’ve really built a confident team.” “We stayed calm (against Folsom) and for us there was never any doubt who was going to win,” said Becker. “Through the rest of the season we’re so confident and excited. This season is definitely comparable to my freshman and sophomore seasons, but I think this team is mentally stronger and deeper.” Simmons’ and Beckers’ freshman and sophomore seasons resulted in the 2008 Division II title and the 2009 Division I title. Oak Ridge was knocked out in the semi-finals last season, but has since remained No. 2 in the CIF Section power ratings and lost only to No. 1 rated St. Francis. Folsom will avoid playing Rocklin in the first round for the first time in three years. Rocklin is a likely top seed this year and has knocked the Lady Bulldogs out in the first round for the last two years in four-game matches. DaSilva said she felt her team benefitted from playing a final DI opponent, Oak Ridge, in their last game before heading into the DII playoffs. “This is a great way to end league and get ready for playoffs. The girls know they’ll have to work hard like they did tonight and heading forward,” said DaSilva.