Since losing to Union Mine in last year's Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV final, Bear River has had one goal a return to the championship match.
"That is the big picture right there," Bruins coach Matt MacDonald said. "A league championship is great, but our No. 1 goal was to get back to (UC) Davis to see what we can do."
No. 10 Bear River beat No. 7 Placer in a crucial match Friday that left both teams tied for the Pioneer Valley League lead at 8-1. The Bruins' lone league loss came at Placer on Oct. 9.
In their regular-season finales Tuesday, Bear River visits Colfax, and Placer hosts Lincoln.
"It is so cliché, but all we've said all year is we are going to build a tough schedule and take it one game at a time," MacDonald said. "We still have to take Colfax down. They are our rivals, and we respect the heck out of them."
The Bruins are ranked No. 1 in Division IV in the section, according to MaxPreps' power rankings. MacDonald hopes that and a win over Colfax will give his team the opportunity to host the first round of the section playoffs next week.
"With this home crowd, and if we could get a couple home games, I think we have a great shot at going back to Davis and hopefully representing Division IV," MacDonald said.
His senior captain, outside hitter Sara Schell, has loftier goals for the Bruins.
"We want to go on from Davis and go on to NorCals," she said.
Playoff watch The race for the section playoffs heats up this week. The top three teams in each league automatically qualify, unless there is a tie for third and a team has a sub-.500 league record, according to the new playoff criteria set by the section.
With the power-ranking system no longer in use, any team with a .500 or better record in league play also will qualify. Brackets will be released Thursday.
In the competitive Sierra Foothill League, Del Oro (5-3) will qualify, but Roseville (4-4) will need at least a split of this week's final two matches today at Nevada Union and Tuesday at No. 13 Del Oro to qualify.
Casa Roble (4-4) also must win one of its final two Capital Valley Conference matches to advance. The Rams host No. 6 Christian Brothers today and visit No. 4 Oakmont on Tuesday.
In the Delta Valley Conference, Elk Grove (5-4) and Franklin (5-4) will advance. Those two teams are behind No. 14 Davis and No. 16 Monterey Trail.
League title watch Davis and Monterey Trail are tied for the DVC lead at 8-1, so Elk Grove and Franklin could play the role of spoiler. In regular-season finales Tuesday, Elk Grove hosts Davis, and Franklin hosts Monterey Trail.
No. 1 St. Francis (9-0) hosts No. 5 Oak Ridge (8-1) today with the Delta River League title at stake.
In the CVC, No. 4 Oakmont (8-0) has clinched a share of the title.
No. 2 Granite Bay, which leads the SFL at 8-0, would clinch the league title with a win today at Del Oro. If the Grizzlies lose and No. 9 Rocklin beats visiting Woodcreek today, Tuesday's Granite Bay-Rocklin match at Granite Bay would be for the title.
No. 3 El Camino and No. 8 Rio Americano share the Capital Athletic League lead at 8-1. In Tuesday's regular-season finales, the Eagles host Mira Loma, and the Raiders host Antelope.
No. 12 Vista del Lago won the Sierra Valley Conference.