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Vikings victorious in first playoff contest

Oakmont to face Oak Ridge next
By: Jennifer Gong, Press Tribune Correspondent
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The upstart boys volleyball team from Oakmont High got is first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section playoff win Thursday night on its home court. The Vikings, the SFL South’s No. 3 team, took care of Laguna Creek in a three-game sweep 25-21, 25-19, 25-22. Laguna Creek came out determined to get the win at the outset, let by setter Auston Bulda. Bulda’s countless hustle plays had him all over the court. Middle hitter Taylor Barlow was also a major force at the net with great blocks and smart hits. Down 12-17, Oakmont was not giving up. The Viking’s outside hitter, Nathaniel Grady, powered three straight kills and Tim Cook contributed to the comeback with a couple of clutch aces and soon the game was tied at 21-21. Grady continued his run with a block and two more kills to win the first game 25-21. In the second game, Laguna Creek came out motivated once again and Bulda went on a serving run to put the score at 5-1. Oakmont quickly bounced back with a couple of strong kills from Grady and middle hitter Dylan Baldwin. While Laguna Creek fought back with great back row play from Joshua Thas and libero Jaze Nuval, Viking libero Ruslan Levko and Ryan Siu held up the back row all night with their impressive digs and passes as Oakmont closed out game two. The third game was played mostly at the net. Barlow battled hard against Oakmont’s middles, Baldwin and Trevor Bellinger as the Cardinals once again had the early advantage. Barlow controlled Grady’s swing with his tough blocks and Laguna’s outside hitter Shaheed Durham came up big with a few dominating kills. Siu and Levko kept the Vikings in the game with their resilient defense and with their help, Oakmont began to attack. Bellinger and Baldwin were huge in the middle, drilling down anything that came their way. Laguna had difficulty returning the Vikings’ hits, and while Bulda’s diving saves and Thas’ clean passes kept the Cardinals in the game, it wasn’t quite enough. With a couple more kills from Grady and Sui, the Vikings would take game three 25-22. Oakmont will travel to face Sierra Valley Conference champion Oak Ridge on Tuesday. The Trojans had a first-round bye.