Golden Valley senior ‘sends message’ with big playoff performance against Gauchos

Merced Sun-Star

Bryan Livesay had extra motivation when he took the floor for Golden Valley High’s quarterfinal volleyball playoff match with El Capitan.

That motivation could be summed up in three letters: M.V.P.

The Central California Conference coaches didn’t vote Livesay as the conference Most Valuable Player after he led the Cougars to a third consecutive CCC championship with an undefeated run through the conference.

“There was definitely extra incentive,” said first-year Golden Valley coach Kayla Pedretti.

It showed as Livesay recorded 21 kills, 23 digs, three blocks and five aces to lead the No. 4-seeded Cougars (19-7) to a 25-22, 25-11, 25-13 sweep of the No. 12 Gauchos (14-10) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.

The Golden Valley High boys volleyball team celebrates a point during their 3-0 win over El Capitan in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinals on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at Golden Valley High in Merced, Calif. Shawn Jansen

“We played this game with a chip on our shoulder,” Livesay said. “I wanted to show what an offensive player of the year could do.”

He was referencing the award he was given by the CCC coaches.

Livesay said the feedback he got for why the coaches didn’t give him a third straight MVP was because “he’s a little too mean around the edges.” Some of the coaches don’t like some his antics on the court.

“I’m trying to compete and do everything I can to win,” Livesay said. “My first reaction when I heard I wasn’t MVP was I lost myself. I felt hurt. I would see these coaches after the game. It’s my senior year. I was a little heartbroken. Then I just worked past it. The best way to deal with it is to send a message.”

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El Capitan senior Jace Taylor strikes the ball as a Golden Valley’s Mateo Tanaagan goes up for the block. The Cougars swept the Gauchos 3-0. Shawn Jansen

The Gauchos had pushed Golden Valley to four games and then five in their previous two matchups this season. El Capitan was coming in hot after upsetting No. 5 seed Rio American 3-1 on Tuesday.

The Gauchos kept the first game close, but Golden Valley ran away with the final two games.

“I knew this would either be a blowout or a really close matchup,” Pedretti said. “I could feel in warmups that we were really pumped. They had this feeling that we were going to win this. We made 16 errors in the first set. Once we cleaned that up, we played our game. We focused on us.”

After the victory, Golden Valley players started chanting “M-V-P” as they gathered around Livesay.

The Cougars advance to the semifinals for the second straight season. Golden Valley will travel to Grass Valley to face No. 1 seed Nevada Union on Tuesday.

“It feels great,” Livesay said. “I didn’t expect to get here, but we improved a lot this season.”