A roster loaded with eight seniors has Nevada Union boys volleyball aiming to finish strong
By JIM McCUE | Senior Contributor
Nevada Union boys volleyball coach Marco Salcedo has instilled knowledge and motivation into his players to build a program from a small club team in the foothills of Nevada County to a perennial Sac-Joaquin Section power. For more than 20 years, he has emphasized simple tenets such as hard work and positivity to the players passing through the Miners program with many carrying his influence on to college courts.
“I have always tried to get guys to believe in one thing: work hard in practice,” Salcedo said. “I believe that success means more if you work hard to achieve it.”
The hard work that Salcedo demands in practice focuses on fundamentals and defense. Step into the Nevada Union gym during a volleyball practice and big hits and battles at the net are rare. Instead, the scene is more likely to be players putting in repetitions serving and receiving serve on either side of the net.
“It is not necessarily exciting or fun,” said senior setter and co-captain Mason Salcedo of his father’s practice regimen, “but it is the reason that we are a good team. The game comes down to the serve receive because you can’t do anything without a good pass to set up the offense.”
Mason Salcedo has been the catalyst for plenty of good passes, which has resulted in more than eight assists per set for the main setter as the Miners have compiled a 26-5 overall record, including an 8-2 mark in Sierra Foothill League play. On April 24, Nevada Union extended SFL nemesis Granite Bay to five sets, but fell to the Grizzlies. It was a loss that erased the Miners’ hopes for a share of the league title, but Nevada Union is anxious to re-focus its energy toward a run at an elusive Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship.
In all, the Miners have eight seniors on the 13-man roster, which is another staple of Marco Salcedo’s coaching style. The veteran coach, who started the Nevada Union program in the early 1990s, has rarely cut players. He values strength in numbers and finds benefit in having a group of young men that experiences the ups and downs of volleyball together.
“Coach connects with the players and really makes the team feel like a family,” McCormick said. “He emphasizes chemistry and the connection between players. He is also a great teacher of the game and technique.”
The Miner’s technique and talent was recently put to the test when Nevada Union took to the road to participate in the 23rd Annual Las Vegas Easter Invitational. The team compiled a 6-1 record against top competition from across the West, which could bode well for the Miners’ stretch run before the postseason.
“We beat some very good teams in Las Vegas and are really confident right now,” Mason Salcedo. “We stepped some things up there, and we want to take what we learned from Vegas and use it for the rest of our season.”
For Salcedo and his senior teammates, that means one final attempt to win the program’s first section volleyball championship. Nevada Union has appeared in three section finals, including a hard-to-swallow loss to Del Oro in last year’s final after defeating Granite Bay in the semifinals.
“We thought that we had the winning team last year, and seeing how much effort the seniors put in was hard,” McCormick said. “We have had our sights set on a section title since the beginning and we want to leave a legacy for Nevada Union volleyball.”
The eight seniors are united in their hard work and motivated to remember high school fondly with a championship. Joining them in taking one final shot at high school glory is Marco Salcedo, who is stepping away from high school volleyball as Mason will be the last of this three kids to leave home when he heads to Orange Coast College to continue his playing career.
“This is my senior year, too.” Coach Salcedo said. “It has been a long, but fun road.”
As the end of that road has started to come into sight, Mason Salcedo admits that it has been more difficult for father and son, as well as coach and son, to accept that there is an end. But the student shows that he has learned from the teacher when he speaks of the team’s focus on each game.
“Our focus is outstanding this year and our mindset has been to be ready to play and ready to win every match from the first one,” Mason Salcedo said. “It is hitting us both a lot more because we have both been around this program for as long as we can remember.
“We know that we can (win the section title) and it would mean everything to all of us to top it off with a championship.”
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