Both Bret Harte and Calaveras entered Tuesday’s contest playing its best volleyball of the year. Calaveras had won six straight Mother Lode League games, while Bret Harte had won three in a row, which included handing the Sonora Wildcats their first ever home loss as members of the MLL.
However, it was Calaveras, for the second time this season, beating Bret Harte in three sets (25-17, 25-21, 25-13) at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.
At one point in the season, Calaveras was 1-2 in league play. Since losing back-to-back road games to Sonora and Summerville, Calaveras has now won seven league matches in a row and are in a tie for first place with the Wildcats.
“I’m not surprised,” Calaveras head coach Mike Koepp said. “I know what we’ve got with the girls we have. It’s just a matter of figuring it out and it took a little time to do that.”
As for Bret Harte, Tuesday’s loss was a step back after picking up three wins, including that emotional victory over Sonora.
“Last week we saw great success working together and unfortunately tonight, we just were not able to connect,” Bret Harte head coach Jacey Porovich said.
Calaveras began the night by going on a 5-0 run, which featured a kill from junior Kyllie Remus and a serving ace from junior Ava Saiers. Bret Harte cut the lead to 5-3, but Calaveras responded by going on a 6-0 run with two serving aces from sophomore Karah Auld.
Calaveras pushed its lead to 24-13 after kills from senior Anna Allain and junior Jenna Brotherton. With one point left for the win, Bret Harte junior Emma Lane made Calaveras wait a while. Lane served up three aces in a row before she served one into the net to give Calaveras a 25-17 win.
Bret Harte looked much sharper in the second set and stuck with Calaveras as long as it could. Calaveras always had the lead, but the Bullfrogs stayed close behind and after a 5-0 run, got within two points with Calaveras leading 23-21. But Calaveras dashed all of Bret Harte’s hopes for a second set win and went up 2-0 with a 25-21 victory.
Calaveras dominated the third set. Up 11-8, Auld recorded back-to-back kills, Saiers had two aces, senior Muriel Strange recorded a block and eventually, Calaveras led 17-8. Calaveras went on a 6-0 run to put the game away and took the final set 25-13.
“It was a total team effort tonight,” Koepp said. “Not one person didn’t step on the floor and contribute.”
For Calaveras, Brotherton had eight kills; Remus had six kills; Saiers had five kills, five aces and 12 assists; Auld had three kills and two aces; senior Keelie Koepp had 21 serves received and 14 digs; Strange had three kills and two blocks; and junior Alyssa Wyllie had two blocks.
For Bret Harte, Mikenna Grotto had two kills; Katrina Swift was 37 for 39 passing with six assists and three digs; Lane had three aces, two kills and two digs; and Gabi Hutchens had two kills and three digs.
“Calaveras came out strong and deserved the win tonight,” Porovich said. “They worked as a unit and were able to set the pace of the game.”
Bret Harte (9-12, 5-5 MLL) will host Summerville Thursday in Angels Camp. Calaveras (14-7, 8-2 MLL) takes on Amador Thursday evening in San Andreas.
“I just want to continue to roll,” Koepp said. “We have some tough games ahead. Amador has played teams tough and we’ve got them here on Thursday. Then, we’ve got that tough trip over to Sonora and Summerville, where we suffered our two losses and then it’s back to Bret Harte one more time. We’ve still got a long way to go.”