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Shasta, U-Prep advance in NorCal volleyball playoffs

Shasta’s Britney Blomquist serves during the Wolves sweep of Mt. Madonna on Thursday in the Division IV Northern California volleyball quarterfinals. (Photo by Aaron Williams / Shasta County Sports)

It seemed like every time the Shasta Wolves volleyball team needed a momentum swing, Courtney Oilar and Teagan Freeman were there to provide it.

The junior hitter had 10 kills for the Wolves and the senior libero added 24 digs in No. 2 Shasta’s 25-21, 25-20, 26-24 sweep of No. 7 Mt. Maddona in the Northern California half of the CIF Division IV bracket. The Wolves host No. 6 Pierce – another Northern Section team to advance – on Saturday with a trip to the NorCal finals on the line. U-Prep, the four seed, beat Woodland Christian in five set to advance and play No. 1 seed Hilmar in Saturday’s NorCal semis.

The Wolves trailed early in the first set until sophomore setter Britney Blomquist found Oilar for three straight kills to take Shasta from a 8-7 deficit to an 11-8 lead. The Wolves would see-saw with the Hawks until Shasta went up 20-19 on a Mackenzie Caples kill off a Freeman assist. Zoe Lin served up a pair of aces and two Oilar blocks closed out the game.

“We had an advantage in the middle (with Oilar), but they had the advantage on the edge,” said Shasta coach Todd Taylor. “But they had nothing in the middle to stop Courtney. When we needed the swings, she came through.”

And while the hitters are usually the ones to get the crowd going, the libero play of Freeman set up a lot of what the Wolves were able to do on Thursday. With strong outside hitting by Mt. Madonna, Freeman said she was able to place herself in key spots to pick up balls that were hit around the block.

“We played well; we came in with a lot of energy,” said Freeman, who credits her mom and assistant coach, Hilari, with helping her hone her craft. “She helps me out and isn’t afraid to yell at me and let me know what I need to do.

“I appreciate it. I love the feedback she gives.”

Shasta and Mt. Madonna played nip-and-tuck in the second set, playing to a 10-all tie before Kayla Price and Lily MacMillan put the Wolves up 11-10 with a block on Mara Peruzzi. Shasta wouldn’t relinquish the lead as an Emily Johnson ace gave Shasta a 17-11 lead and a Lin aces and Oilar kill put the Wolves up 21-13.

Mt. Madonna would chip into the Wolves lead, but two hitting errors on the final three points gave the Wolves the 25-20 set win and a 2-0 advantage.

“For some reason we weren’t feeling it in the third game, but we powered through,” Oilar said. “I think the games went longer than they should’ve been.”

In the third set, the Wolves took the lead at 9-8 on a Oilar kill set up by Blomquist and added to it with a Hawks’ hitting error, an Oilar ace and a Blomquist-Kayla Price block to go up 13-8.

But the Wolves couldn’t put away Mt. Maddona – nor could the Hawks run away from the Wolves – as the third set was tied at 19, 20, 22 and 24. From the time the Wolves led 16-15 until it was tied at 24, the two teams combined for nine hitting errors.

But Tied at 24, Johnson got a kill and, on the ensuing point, BLomquist found Oilar in the middle for a match-ending kill.

“Getting kills is why I play, making everyone on the other side quiet,” Oilar said. “But my favorite thing to do is get that last kill on the last point.”

In addition to Oilar’s 10 kills, Lauren Weaver added five. Freeman had 24 digs and Blomquist dished up 20 assists.

U-Prep 3, Woodland Christian 2

The Panthers won the final set 16-14 as they advanced 25-27, 25-23, 25-18, 21, 25, 16-14 to play Saturday against the No. 1 seed Hilmar.

Madison Kremer had 27 kills in the match and Kennedy Kremer had 29 for U-Prep (32-6).

Madi Friebel dished out 55 assists, while Madison Kremer added 20 digs and Gigi Elizarraras had 13 digs.

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. In addition to coaching freshman football, Williams is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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