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Valley Christian volleyball makes statement with sweep

By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Valley Christian Academy had its first volleyball match against Sacramento Country Day marked on its calendar since losing to the Cavaliers in the 2011 postseason, and then, in the grandest tease of all, had it postponed week before last.

It was in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI semifinals that Valley Christian lost to Country Day 3-2, and the Lady Lions were hungry for a rematch. As it turned out, the postponement was for the better.

“We were not ready. It has taken us awhile to get our girls to gel,” Valley Christian head coach Maria Hill said Monday night. “We knew they had it in them.”

That they did. Valley Christian (7-1 overall, 3-0 Sacramento Metro Athletic League) defeated Country Day 27-25, 25-21, 25-23 in a sweep that swung between nail-biter, error-fest and seesaw for momentum.

The one constant through all the ebbs and flows was Valley Christian senior Erin Patterson, who pounded heavy-hitting serves, made big saves and, for lack of a better way to put it, literally killed Country Day. She had 20.

As much as Patterson hammered the Cavaliers (7-6, 2-2) with big swings, she strategically placed as many kills into open spots in the middle and back rows, including a vacant back corner on match point.

“That’s what I really do,” Patterson said, noting that at 5-foot-7, she isn’t exactly the tallest outside hitter in the history of the sport. Because Country Day is known for its hitting and senior libero Elise DeCarli, Patterson suggested, “Why not find their weaknesses and play with that?”

For the Lady Lions, that meant finding open spaces in the floor, working around the Cavaliers’ hitters and digging. Junior HaeLeigh Sinerius had 11 digs, senior Emily Flood nine and Patterson eight. Flood had five kills and four aces, and senior Hayley Simon had five kills.

Sophomore Jenny Frank, Valley Christian’s third setter in the rotation, “delivered big time,” according to Hill, and senior Katie Urban served the final six points in set three, when the Lady Lions turned a 23-18 deficit into a match victory.

“I can’t even express my happiness,” Hill said.