Granite Bay sweeps St. Francis for title

This one was a year in the making.

Granite Bay – led by stellar seniors Taylor Nelson, Maddy Deters and Nicolette Pinkney – won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I girls volleyball title with a 25-13, 25-20, 25-11 win over St. Francis at the Pavilion at UC Davis on Thursday.

Last season, St. Francis swept Granite Bay in the D-I section final and went on to the state title match after beating the Grizzlies in the Northern California championship game.

“I think back to last year and how I felt and how I feel now,” said Deters, an outside hitter. “This is such a great accomplishment.”

The Grizzlies (41-0) have been top-ranked by The Bee all season, and they are rated No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports. Granite Bay, which beat national power Archbishop Mitty of San Jose in a tournament this season, is the only undefeated team in the state. No Sacramento-area team has won a D-I state volleyball title.

“It feels really great, but we are trying to stay calm,” Taylor said. “But looking back at it, it’s pretty crazy to see how far we’ve come.”

Granite Bay won its first section title since beating Golden Valley for the 2004 crown.

Tricia Plummer, Granite Bay’s first-year head coach, starred at Del Oro in the mid-2000s, and this was her first section title as a player or coach. She admitted to being “anxious” before the title match and deflected the praise onto her players.

“I am excited for the girls,” Plummer said. “They set out for this goal, and they did it together. I am so proud of them.”

Granite Bay – led by precision passing by Nelson (26 assists) and great power at the net by Deters (15 kills), Pinkney (seven kills) and sophomore Brigid Bell (eight kills) – controlled the momentum throughout the match.

“They beat us soundly,” St. Francis coach Alynn Wright said.

Seven seniors for the Troubadours (32-8), winners of 12 section titles from D-III through D-I in 25 years under Wright, signed college letters of intent last week They included captains Ali Koumelis, Noa Nightingale and Anna Baytosh.

Both teams qualify for the NorCal playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Led by its Big Three, Granite Bay has a stellar supporting cast with Bell, juniors Brooke Hershberger and Libby Deters, and senior Cally Chamberlain. The Grizzlies have dropped just five sets all season.

Granite Bay has become an all-around athletic powerhouse. The boys soccer team won the D-I section title in thrilling fashion over nationally ranked Jesuit on Saturday. The football team won the D-I state title last December.

Hershberger reflected on the championship ramifications inside her household.

Her older brother Beau, a freshman linebacker at Nevada, played on the Grizzlies’ state championship football team.

“Hopefully, I am going to be able to match my brother,” Hershberger said. “It’s been an amazing experience, unbelievable.”

Deters and Taylor have waited since freshmen for this moment. In 2011, St. Francis beat Granite Bay in the D-I semifinals before last year’s victory over the Grizzlies in the D-I title game.

Deters reflected, smiled and soaked in the moment on Thursday.

“I will always remember this,” Deters said. “We work so hard in practice, and we just want to be the best. Hopefully, we can keep this momentum going.”