Valley Christian volleyball falls in Division VI final, but goal is met

'Operation Davis' is considered a success by Lady Lions
By: Bill Poindexter, Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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DAVIS--Operation Davis was a success. The T-shirts said so.

Valley Christian Academy's goal all season was to return to UC Davis for the Sac-Joaquin Section volleyball finals, and the Lady Lions did. Valley Christian lost to Turlock Christian 3-1 in the Division VI final Thursday at UC Davis Pavilion, but the Lady Lions were proud in their 25-8, 23-25, 25-13, 25-20 defeat.

"Exceeded my expectations," head coach Maria Hill said.

The six seniors on this Valley Christian team got a taste of the section finals two years, when as sophomores the Lady Lions took a perfect record into the championship and then lost to Woodland Christian in a long, intense match.

This season's team didn't win its Sacramento Metro Athletic League title and got into the playoffs with the ninth and final seed. Valley Christian (17-6) went on the road to sweep No. 8 Stockton Christian in an out-bracket and then went to Marysville and swept top-seeded New Life Christian.

And there they were Thursday night, their goal achieved, these Lady Lions having traveled to UC Davis with a big, loud fan base, many wearing T-shirts that read "OPERATION DAVIS - mission accomplished."

"It's been amazing. It was really exciting to get to come here again," senior Erin Patterson said after an 18-kill effort in her final high school match.

Once the Lady Lions took the court, however, not all of them knew quite what to do. This team also had five sophomores, and a combination of service errors, hits into the net and a lack of mid-court coverage put Valley Christian into a 12-1 hole.

"They've never been on this stage," assistant coach Chris Patterson said.

Trailing 19-16, the Lady Lions fought back and won the second set. Senior Emily Flood had two of her six kills in the set and a service ace to end it. Patterson had four kills and a block. Sophomore Jenny Frank served two aces during the late run and finished the match with 10 digs.

Turlock Christian shot to leads of 10-3 and 20-6 en route to winning the third set. Valley Christian led 15-14 in the fourth set, but the Eagles scored the final four points, including an ace to secure the championship banner.

"They didn't go down with a whimper," Chris Patterson said. "They went down with a fight."

Contact Bill Poindexter at Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.