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‘Operation Davis’ is a go as Valley Christian opens volleyball season

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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When a mantra takes on the word “Operation,” it’s serious business.

When the mantra is “Operation Davis” and the sport is high school girls volleyball — well, that speaks for itself.

Valley Christian Academy has one goal in mind this season: Return to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship match at UC Davis. Four upperclassmen who have played together — and won — since middle school are leading the charge.

Valley Christian assistant coach Chris Patterson has coached Erin Patterson, his daughter and an outside hitter, outside hitter Emily Flood, opposite hitter Sarah Finnell and junior libero HaeLeigh Sinerius for five seasons. The other three are seniors.

“It’s our last year together,” Flood said.

When they were eighth-graders and Sinerius a seventh-grader, they advanced to the championship match in their league. In 2009 and ’10, they won two Sacramento Metro Athletic League JV titles.

Two seasons ago, they were underclassmen on a Valley Christian varsity squad that went unbeaten until losing to Woodland Christian in the Division VI section title match at UC Davis. Last season, the Lady Lions lost to Sacramento Country Day in five games in the section semifinals.

“They’ve been playing all these years together. These four are taking the mantle and trying to get us back to sections,” Chris Patterson said. “They started off with winning in the eighth grade and carried on a tradition of winning. We’re primed to go back.”

The four are super friends. They take an annual camping trip and led offseason conditioning.

“Volleyball brought us together,” Sinerius said. “I really want to make this year count. It would be like the cherry on top of the sundae.”

Not only will Valley Christian probably have to go through Country Day, but Vacaville-Buckingham Charter will be a battle, too.

“We know what it’s going to be like,” Erin Patterson said of the group that’s been there before.

Valley Christian faces Sacramento Country Day at home Sept. 13 in a big early match. The Lady Lions don’t rely solely on the quartet. They’re 12 strong this season, and the newbies are coming around.

“We’re not a clique,” Finnell said. “On and off the court, we jell with them.”

All the way to UC Davis, they hope.

FOUNDATION GAMES

Monday’s schedule (7 p.m.): Highlands at Valley Christian, Center at Woodcreek, Roseville at El Camino, El Dorado at Oakmont, Granite Bay at St. Francis.

Laying the Foundation: Granite Bay jumps out of the gate to face St. Francis in a rematch of the 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals, won by the Troubadours 3-2.