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Granite Bay looking to take the next step in volleyball

Five starters return to Division I section semifinalist
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Jamie Ingram admitted the performance was raw.

“This was very raw,” Granite Bay High School’s varsity volleyball coach said following the Grizzlies’ 3-0 loss to reigning Sac-Joaquin Section Division I-champion St. Francis on Monday night. “Let’s be real; we have some things to work on.”

But Ingram spoke with an ever-present smile. Raw? Sure, but Granite Bay has five starters back from last season’s team that went 24-8 overall, 8-2 in the Sierra Foothill League and advanced to the section semifinals, where it lost to these same Troubadours 3-2 in a close match.

Granite Bay went into its Foundation Game without having played a scrimmage.

“We’ve been keeping the dogs locked up,” Ingram said.

After turning them loose, she liked what she saw.

Ingram has two liberos to work with: senior leader Kiah Drongesen, an All-SFL first-team selection, and sophomore Libby Deters.

Also returning are junior outside hitters Maddy Deters and Nicolette Pinkney and setter Taylor Nelson. All are team captains.

Nelson has given a verbal commitment to Cal Poly and “is on every watch list,” according to Ingram. Deters had more than 800 kills last season en route to making the All-SFL first team, and Ingram said Pinkney grew “significantly, physically and mentally,” during the club season.

Add senior defensive specialist/server Kristin Kupershoek, a third-year varsity player, and 6-foot-1 senior middle Kelsey Green, who returns after not playing the past two years, and the Grizzlies have quite a mix.

“It was fun to see the depth I have, the different routes I can go with,” Ingram said, adding this group works hard while also having fun. “This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Just to see that little burn in them was good to see.”

Oakmont

The Vikings return seven players from a team that went 21-14 overall last season and qualified for the section playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Coach Shelby Weinberger expects Oakmont to be competitive again and possibly beat out Christian Brothers and Bella Vista for the Capital Valley Conference title.

Ally Wubben and middle blocker Kyra Rogers are the team’s only sophomore call-ups. Rogers played with the varsity last year and had six kills in a 3-0 sweep of Lincoln on Tuesday night. Wubben had 12 kills, 10 digs and two blocks in a sweep of El Dorado in a Foundation Game.

Katie Carte and Brennah Gladwill are returning senior captains. Carte is the team’s premiere outside hitter and Gladwill the go-to setter. Carte had nine digs against El Dorado, and Gladwill served 11 aces against Lincoln.

Emily Larson adds to the spread of hitters. She had nine digs and five kills against El Dorado.

“With Ally (Wubben) coming up, I honestly expect this to be our best season,” Weinberger said. “We’re trying to do a much quicker offense. Last year, we went outside a lot, so we’re trying to open up our offense so that other teams can’t read us as well. Our defense is better also.”

Oakmont’s JV beat Lincoln 25-18, 25-13, and the Vikings won the freshman match 25-17, 25-15.

Roseville

The Tigers executed their offense and game plan in a 3-0 loss to El Camino in a Foundation Game.

Roseville coach Ron Grove now is looking for consistency from his young team. The Tigers led the polished Eagles in sets two and three but couldn’t finish.

“We should be able to show a little more competitiveness than we have, and the match showed some things we can work on,” he said in an e-mail. “With so many new players, it will take awhile to gain that consistency offensively and defensively.”

Grove likes Roseville’s potential. The Tigers are starting two sophomores: 5-11½ middle Abby Jensen and setter Jessica Yaranon, who Grove said played well against El Camino.

Senior captain Marrisa Dumford provided the consistency Grove seeks in the front and back rows and was an All-SFL first-team pick last season.

Returning starter Leslie Pease, a 5-10 junior setter/outside hitter, had an “excellent” match blocking and playing defense in the back row, according to Grove. Seniors Kirsten Merlino, an outside hitter, and middle Jennifer Simon also are returning starters. Junior libero Haley Barnes led the Tigers in digs against El Camino.

Woodcreek

The Timberwolves return All-SFL second-team picks Blaire Smith, their top attacker, and Sarah Shively, their most consistent player. Shively is a senior and Smith a junior.

“We are a young squad and look with a great determination and drive to do well,” head coach Brian Jew said. “The team is cohesive and each set we are growing.”