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Sutter volleyball cruises past Orland in playoff opener
Huskies advance to semifinals with 3-0 win
The names may change over the years, but one thing seems to remain the same when it comes to Sutter High volleyball — the Huskies always seem to find a way to win.
The numbers certainly back that up, too.
With a perfect 8-0 Butte View League campaign this year, the Huskies clinched their 16th consecutive league title and stretched their winning streak to 78 straight games in regular season BVL action.
However, the postseason has been a bit of a rough spot of late.
Sutter hasn't won the Northern Section Division IV title since winning four straight crowns from 2005-2008, and though the Huskies reached the finals in 2009 and 2010, they lost to West Valley both times.
Last year, Sutter earned a first-round bye only to fall to BVL rival Wheatland in the quarterfinals, setting the table for this season where the Huskies are looking to end that little dry spell.
And after Tuesday's playoff opener against Orland, coach Ann Reynolds' team appears to be well on its way.
Erika Larsen tallied 10 kills, Ava Payton recorded nine and the top-seeded Huskies needed all of 49 minutes to dispatch the No. 9-seeded Trojans in the D-IV quarterfinals, cruising to a straight-set 25-17, 25-20, 25-11 victory at home.
The win propels Sutter (22-7) into Thursday's semifinal match against No. 5 Yreka, which beat No. 4 Lassen in five sets on Tuesday. Should the Huskies win, they will advance to Saturday's championship game in Red Bluff against the winner of No. 2 West Valley and No. 6 Willows.
"I really think we have a good chance, we just need to keep our heads in the game and play consistent," Reynolds said of her team's title aspirations. "We're just going to keep working at it, and if we're determined to get that far, we have to play tough."
With 12 days passed since their last match, Reynolds was worried that her team would come out flat for their playoff opener, but the Huskies put her mind at ease early by bolting out to a 14-7 lead in the first game before cruising to an easy victory.
The Huskies scored the final three points to squeak out a win in the second set, and controlled the action over the entire third to close out the win, taking advantage of 32 unforced errors by the Trojans (18-18) in the match.
"Volleyball is such a rhythm-type sport with a lot of flow, and when you have time off, you worry about that the most," Reynolds said. "I was happy with the way they came out and got into it, especially in that third game."
Payton added four digs, Bianca Almeida finished with seven kills and Brooke Smallwood had six digs. Libero Alix Russell chipped in with five digs and setter Savannah Besso dished out 32 assists for the Huskies, who are inching closer to their goal of returning to the championship game.
"We were really nervous coming into this one, but we came out and did good," Russell said. "We're going into the next round confident, and hopefully we can make a run at sections."
Added Besso: "I felt like we played a little slow out there at times, but it will be a lot better game on Thursday. We're expecting a tough game, and as long as we play strong, we should be fine."