Redding Christian’s volleyball team had to take an unusual approach to preparing for the opening round of the Northern Section playoffs.
With the statewide PG&E power outages canceling school and leaving the teams searching for practice locations, the Lions took advantage of having the sand volleyball courts out at Big League Dreams available, just to get on some type of a court.
It worked as sixth-seeded Redding Christian made quick work of No. 11 Greenville with a 25-16, 25-16, 25-20 sweep Tuesday night in the NSCIF Division VI playoffs at U-Prep.
“We haven’t practiced since Thursday and we had to figure something out,” said Redding Christian coach Tammie Hartland, admitting the practice on sand limited what they could do in terms of playing. “It’s a lot harder, you can’t strategize on the court and the courts they have aren’t legal courts; the nets are too high.”
The Lions (18-7) didn’t seem to be hindered too much, jumping all over the visiting Indians 11-1 to start the opening set. Junior Laynee Fox crushed five kills in the opening set, twice followed by an Aleah Matos kill as Redding Christian easily took a 1-0 lead on a set-ending service error.
Senior setter Hope Dabbs – one of three returners from last year’s section finalist squad, Hartman said – took over in the second set. Dabbs twice put an overpass away to build an 11-5 lead and she would set up freshman Carli Rafferty, Matos and Fox for kills down the stretch before another set-point service error ended it at 25-16 for a two-set advantage.
Greenville (11-9) wouldn’t go quietly.
The Indians leaned on junior middle Alexis Goodson and senior setter Ashlyn Bustamante to put together a 5-0 run and lead 8-6, tying its largest lead of the match. But Redding Christian responded with a 5-point run of its own aided by a Fox service ace, and a kill apiece from Bailey Matos and Kate Martin.
“Sometimes it’s stressful playing teams who play at a slower pace because we tend to slow down and not play our game,” Hartland said.
Two more aces from Courtney Taff and a bunch of unforced errors from Greenville allowed the Lions to go on a 16-2 run to lead 20-10. Greenville had one more spurt in it with a 5-0 run thanks to a hard kill from Goodson and a kill and ace from Bustamante to pull within 22-19, forcing Hartland to call timeout.
“I just told them to get out of their heads, when they start playing down a little bit they start overthinking it and overplaying it,” Hartland said. “They try to fix what they were doing wrong instead of just playing their game.”
A Greenville service error followed by back-to-back hitting efforts put it at match-point and Fox’s block in the middle on a back row attack sealed the victory.
Up next for Redding Christian is No. 3 Fall River on Thursday. The Lions lost the only meeting this season in the Los Molinos Tournament with Fall River taking both sets in a best-of-three.
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