The Sutter High girls volleyball team struggled to match up with Yreka at the net on Tuesday night.
Yreka, easily the taller of the two teams, owned the block and attack portion of the match, en route to an upset straight-set win over No. 3 Sutter – 25-16, 25-17, 25-15 – Tuesday night in the opening round of the Northern Section Division III playoffs at Sutter Union High School.
Yreka, seeded sixth at 14-8, advances to take on the winner of West Valley and Lassen next Tuesday in the semifinals.
Sutter (17-16), which fell to Yreka for the first time since 2012, tried to get off to a better start in set two, but Yreka’s transition offense and ability to corral Sutter’s attack played integral parts again in the second. Senior Julia DeLeon, the Miners top arm all match, used her taller frame to keep Sutter at bay on both sides of the net. Up 5-1 in the second after a DeLeon transition kill, the senior outside hitter from Siskiyou County, blocked a Macey Gomes attempt to push it to 6-1.
Sutter answered with a mini 4-3 run, but Yreka came right back with a cross-court putaway, getting it back to 13-9 Miners.
“They had a lot of height and power on their outside,” Sutter head coach Elizabeth Thygeson said. “A lot of good angles and cut (shots) from their outside (hitters).”
Yreka pushed it to eight and eventually closed out set two, 25-17, to grab a commanding 2-0 lead on Sutter in the match.
The Huskies earned their first multi-point advantage in set three as Laura Anderson converted a kill off the right side in transition to give Sutter the 5-2 lead.
DeLeon came right back to split the Sutter block on the outside and trim the deficit to 8-6. Then came one of perhaps the match’s longest rallies of the night, with both teams going back-and-forth for several minutes before Yreka finally earned the point – a noteworthy sequence because the Miners went on a 6-0 run immediately following the long rally.
Yreka extended its run to 11-1, forcing Thygeson to call another timeout down 18-9.
Yreka put it away shortly after to complete the road playoff win.
“What I try to emphasize is that our blockers watch the hitter and not just the set,” Thygeson said. “Understanding that mental switch of not following the ball but looking at the hitter so they can set their block is something that (we) need to work on more.”
For Thygeson, she hopes the team’s first postseason experience in two years will help move Sutter forward to get ready for 2022.
Thygeson said both Mia Minard and sophomore Jaycee Lee return to their setting duties next year, joining up with a number of other key pieces next fall.
“It was exciting, I got to see a lot of things out of players that I was hoping to see out of them,” Thygeson said. “Some of our younger players (stepping) up and some of our senior players taking that leading role and giving that effort that I appreciate. We hate to see the season end, but they fought hard and did what I asked.”