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Vista volleyball team sweeps Cougars

By: Matt Long/Telegraph Sports Editor
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It’s a mathematical certainty that Vista del Lago’s varsity girls’ volleyball team will make the playoffs, but coach Patrick Sanders believes his team must improve if they are to make deep run into the playoffs, let alone with a third straight section title. The Eagles played one of their tougher league opponents on Thursday and defeated El Dorado on the road in three straight games, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17, but Sanders was more pleased to get the win than he was with his team’s play. It’s not that the Eagles, 10-0 in the Sierra Valley Conference and 17-10 overall, played poorly, but it wasn’t consistent enough for the coach’s liking. “El Dorado has one of the better programs and this isn’t an easy place to play, but we need to be more consistent,” Sanders said. “We played well in spurts and then we’d miss a serve or have a couple of hitting errors and let them back in the game instead of putting them away. I don’t mind when a team gets kills on us, but I don’t like when we give away points and let the opponent back in it. We’re going to make the playoffs, but if we want to win in the playoffs we need to be more consistent and we can’t be giving up points.” Sanders had to look no further than the opening moments of the match for his point to be proven. The Eagles jumped out to a solid 6-0 lead, albeit mainly on El Dorado’s own mistakes, but almost as fast as the Eagles got the lead it was gone when the Cougars tied the match at eight. From that point forward, however, the Eagles controlled the first game. Vista went on a mini run to take a 13-11 lead and from there outscored the Cougars 12-6 to win the game. Vista led the second game 14-9, but the Cougars came storming back to tie it at 17, take their first lead at 18-17 and increased it to their biggest lead of the night in any game, 20-17 and later 23-20. After the second three-point lead of the night. Vista’s biggest offensive threat of the night, Kelsey Sampson, scored the next two points on kills which the Cougars blocked out of bounds and the Eagles were within one, 23-22. El Dorado then had an unforced error, which knotted the game at 23 and Sampson followed with a block that put the Eagles up by one. Jordan Cryderman finished the game with an ace and this time it was the Eagles who mounted the comeback. Sampson had an outstanding night, leading the team with 25 kills and a 42 percent kill percentage, both of which were impressive numbers in a three-game match, according to Sanders. The coach was also pleased with his middle blockers, Kendall Moore and Hallie Robertson. “We’ve been working a lot with our middles,” Sanders said. “We’re looking to improve the number of touches they get and they did what we’re asking them to do. I’d like to think it’s because it’s what we’ve been working on in practice.” The Eagles jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the third game before the Cougars got to within one at 7-6. The Eagles worked up a six-point lead at 13-7 and El Dorado never got closer than three, the latest time being 17-14. While Sanders wasn’t thrilled with his team’s play, the coach is happy that the team is making progress. “We’re playing better now than we were earlier in the season,” he said. “We’re gradually improving; not by leaps and bounds, but we’re getting better.” The Eagles have received a boost with the return of Caroline Sipiora, who completed her first week back with the team having recovered from a serious knee injury she suffered in February. While limited to the back row, she’s had a calming influence on the team. “She brings the attitude that nothing’s going to hit the floor,” Sanders said. “She’s a good communicator and is a vocal leader for us. She’ll let the world know what’s going on and I say that in a positive way. It’s nice to have her back.” Vista’s next match is at River City on Thursday prior to the team competing in the Northgate Tournament on Oct. 27. The team’s final regular season match is on Oct. 30 at home against Galt.