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Thunder fall to St. Francis in DII volleyball final

By: Russ Edmondson The Placer Herald
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St. Francis High appears to have Rocklin’s number in volleyball. The Troubadours beat the Thunder (26-24, 25-14, 25-21) to win the Sac-Joaquin Section, Division II title at UC Davis late Thursday night. St. Francis ended the Thunder’s season in the section semifinals last year in Rocklin and beat Rocklin for the DII title at Davis in 2007 (25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-15). “I think every team has a nemesis and ours was Oak Ridge for a few years and we finally got over that hump,” Rocklin coach Dave Muscarella said. “And now it’s St. Francis.” St. Francis has played in the last three DII title matches, also losing to Oak Ridge last year. It appeared in 10 DIII title matches between 1991 and 2005, winning eight section championships in that span. Rocklin’s lone section title in volleyball came in DIII in 1997 when it beat Summerville in the finals. Rocklin’s other section final appearances came in 2007 and this year. “We’ve been here twice now (against St. Francis) and both times the same result,” said Muscarella, who began coaching the Thunder in 1999. “If we would have beaten them in the semis last year it would have been us with the experience.” Rocklin junior libero Lauren Orozco knows her team could have played much better. “I think even though we don’t want to admit it – we were nervous and intimidated,” Orozco said. Rocklin trailed 21-12 in Game 3 and then battled back to make it close. “We finally realized where we were and what we needed to do,” Orozco said. Game 1 was close all the way through. Rocklin’s biggest lead was 18-15 and St. Francis’ largest advantage was 23-20. Junior Zoe Nightingale, 6-foot-4 and verbally committed to UCLA, ended the game with a kill. The Troubadours dominated Game 2 throughout. Senior Kasey Clark served for 10 consecutive points to turn a 6-3 lead into 16-3. “She served the heck out of us,” Muscarella said. “Ultimately I don’t think we defended like we had practiced (throughout the match).” Both teams now enter the Northern California playoffs, Rocklin starting on the road on Tuesday. This is a single elimination tournament. If was a tough night for the Sierra Foothill League on Thursday as Nevada Union lost to Oak Ridge in the DI final at the same time that SFL champion Rocklin was defeated by St. Francis.