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Granite Bay takes St. Francis to the limit, falls in five

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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The season is over, but the future is bright for Granite Bay High School's volleyball program.

The Grizzlies and their sophomore-heavy varsity lineup put on a powerful performance that had the home side of St. Francis' gymnasium throwing down a compliment about as often as Maddy Deters took a swing. And that was often.

Deters, one of five sophomores on the roster, had 29 kills, and sophomore setter Taylor Nelson had 41 assists in the Grizzlies' 3-2 loss to top-seeded St. Francis on Tuesday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals.

"They've given you a little glimpse of what they're capable of, and I'm just excited to see what else they do," Granite Bay coach Jamie Ingram said.

The Troubadours, who will play in the Division I title match Thursday night at UC Davis, saw more than a glimpse and might not be quite as excited to see what else the Grizzlies are capable of doing.

Nicolette Pinkney, another sophomore, had 11 kills in 20 swings in Granite Bay's 21-25, 25-23, 25-14, 23-25, 15-13 loss to St. Francis.

In the end, Granite Bay (24-8) didn't quite have enough to match the front-row play of St. Francis (36-5) junior Gabriella Palmeri and sophomore Allie Wegener, and junior Loni Kreun was in on three blocks early in set five.

"We really couldn't cover those blocks as well as we would have liked to. That was our biggest downfall is that they were putting up a pretty solid block, and it was kind of getting predictable that we were going outside," Ingram said. "We have two great outside hitters, and they are very good about making things happen. Unfortunately, you can only pull so much out. Because they've been so great for us and really been dependable all season, we weren't prepared for them to get blocked. We kind of got caught on those."

Granite Bay faced elimination in set four, trailing 21-23. The Grizzlies then scored the final four points, receiving a go-ahead tip winner from sophomore Kate Hurley and a winning kill from Pinkney following a Deters dig.

Granite Bay fell behind 11-7 in set five but came back, and a block that would have tied the score at 13 instead landed just out of bounds. St. Francis won the match on a tip by junior Allison Child.

"St. Francis has a great team," Ingram said. "I couldn't be more proud. I could not have asked for a better group of girls across the board. We've had people overlooking us all season, and day in and day out they've risen to every battle. They've proven that every single one of them has the heart of a lion, and they've come in after a big loss against Rocklin and fought hard in practice. They've come back from an 0-2 deficit to beat Del Oro. As a coach, you couldn't ask for anything more than that."