Marco Salcedo is no stranger to big volleyball matches for Nevada Union High School.
As a coach for his alma mater, Salcedo led the boys team to Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title matches in 2009 and 2013.
Now, as the girls coach, he hopes to bring back those winning ways. The No. 5 Miners are a confident bunch with lofty expectations for a program that won seven consecutive D-I section titles from 2002 to 2008. This squad wants to do it all over again.
"That's the ultimate goal, bottom line," Salcedo said. "It's exciting in a sense when you are building up to those games."
The coaching change last season and a dip in performance over the last three years made the program tucked up Highway 49 in Nevada County an afterthought in the volleyball community.
Salcedo and Kelly Rhoden took over the program in 2012, and the adjustment was tough on the team. Rhoden left the program in the offseason after becoming an assistant principal on campus.
"The change of coaches was different last year, and we had to get used to that from the old coaching staff," senior libero Sydney Porter said. "Now that we are used to it, it is a lot easier and we are playing better."
That they are. The Miners finished second to No. 2 St. Francis at the High Sierra Invitational on Aug. 31 in Reno, Nev., and advanced to the Christine Craft Memorial Tournament semifinals the following week at Vista del Lago.
Senior setter Lindsay Meyer is hopeful this team has the ability to make a deep playoff run and add another championship to the rich volleyball history.
"It means so much because it's my last year here and I want to accomplish as much as we can," Meyer said. "I want to leave something for the younger girls to look up to."
Top 20 showdowns As coaches continue to seek early matchups that challenge their teams instead of padding their records, fans get a chance to see playoff-like matches in September.
There are 11 matches between top-20 teams this week.
On Tuesday, No. 8 Oak Ridge plays at No. 3 Rocklin, No. 7 Rio Americano is at No. 4 Christian Brothers, and No. 5 Nevada Union is at No. 2 St. Francis.
On Wednesday, defending D-III champion Oakmont, ranked 10th, plays at No. 12 Placer. This will be the first time as a coach at legendary Earl Crabbe Gym for Oakmont's Shelby Weinberger, a Placer alum.
Troubadours rising After losing to No. 1 Granite Bay in a Foundation Game and No. 9 Roseville, defending NorCal-champion St. Francis finished second to nationally ranked Archbishop Mitty on Saturday at the Mitty Invitational in San Jose.
Mitty, ranked No. 25 in the nation by MaxPreps, beat St. Francis 2-1 in the final after the Troubadours won their first three tournament matches in straight sets.
"The kids played pretty consistent throughout the day," St. Francis coach Alynn Wright said. "We had good play and a lot of moments by everyone. I think we will see Mitty again in the Presentation Tournament (on Oct. 5), and we learned some things (Saturday)."