Granite Bay to face Rocklin in all-SFL Division I volleyball final
The Granite Bay High School gymnasium lit up like a European soccer stadium Tuesday night, as the Grizzlies were hosts to Nevada Union in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I volleyball semifinals.
Granite Bay won a tight, intense match 25-23, 25-17, 22-25, 19-25, 15-6.
The Grizzlies were in control after the second set, but the Miners rallied around a bleacher-stomping crowd and won the next two sets.
“Volleyball is a weird sport in that it is a lot of momentum,” Granite Bay coach Bruce Honberger said. “If you look back at the first two games, we had all the momentum. We were making plays easier, and then we lost the momentum in game three, and all of sudden everything was a little harder.”
But in the final set, Granite Bay’s front line took care of business and cruised to a dominant victory.
“Fortunately, our guys, I mean, this is a senior group,” Honberger said of his team, which has nine of its 16 members in their final season. “They didn’t panic, and in game five they just brought it. They got back to the way they play.”
“We just realized that we needed to come together,” senior Jacob Ball said. “A lot of our team is seniors, and we didn’t want this to be our end. We stepped it up, and we came together as a team.”
Serving specialist Ball was a key table setter early. Ball, who may possess the coolest serve in men’s volleyball, topped the first set with an ace.
Granite Bay led 18-14 in the second set before Ball served for six consecutive points. The southpaw charges the line, crosses his arms before making the toss and then spikes the ball in mid-air, creating ping-pong-like spin that sends the ball into a downward curving motion.
“I’ve just been working real hard on it,” Ball said of his serve. “Since I’m left-handed, I spin it a little differently, and I hit it sideways.”
Net work was taken care of by front-liners Alec Naki, Zach Wilson, Bryan Berry and Matt Austin. Granite Bay beat the Miners in kill count 62-53, including 5-2 in the final set.
The Grizzlies advance to the final, where they’ll meet another Sierra Foothill League rival, Rocklin, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Monterey Trail in Elk Grove. Honberger said it will be a battle between the best in the section.
“It’s been Granite Bay and Rocklin, 1-2 all year,” Honberger said. “Rocklin beat us two weeks ago, so we’re ready for a rematch.”