Empire notes: Big night ahead in Vine Valley Athletic League volleyball

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Wednesday night will be huge in Vine Valley Athletic League volleyball, as the second-place Sonoma Valley Dragons travel to Napa to take on the first-place Vintage Crushers.

The Dragons are 12-5 overall and 8-2 in VVAL while the Crushers are 16-9 and 8-1 in league. The Crushers were slated to play the 0-10 American Canyon Wolves on Tuesday.

The last time the Dragons played the Crushers, Sonoma Valley fell 3-1 — but two matches later Vintage lost to Justin-Siena, a team squarely in the middle of the standings, 3-1. The last time the Dragons lost, in fact, it was Sept. 17 — to whom? The Crushers. The match starts at 6 p.m.

NBL-Oak volleyball race tightens

Maria Carrillo knocked off top-ranked Cardinal Newman last week to make the North Bay League-Oak Division volleyball title race much more interesting.

The Pumas went 23-25, 25-19, 25-23 and 25-16. The last time these two teams met, Cardinal Newman won 3-1. The Pumas’ win put them alone in second at 6-2 while Cardinal Newman fell to 7-1 and Montgomery and Windsor are both 4-4. But all of those records were going into Tuesday night matchups, so by the time the dust settles Wednesday morning, we could have a title race on our hands.

Newman has a tough combination to play in Windsor on Tuesday and Montgomery on Thursday, while Carrillo faced Santa Rosa (2-6) on Tuesday and Windsor on Thursday.

Kicker Nguyen bright spot for 1-5 Bear Cubs football

A bright spot within the Santa Rosa Junior College football (1-5 overall, 0-1 in Big 8 Conference) season has been the kicking of Keven Nguyen. The sophomore out of Rancho Cotate hasn’t missed an extra-point attempt and has made seven of his nine field goal attempts. His longest of the season? Fifty-one yards. Not to jinx him, but last season he was a perfect 33 of 33 in his extra point attempts, but only 10 of 19 in field goal attempts. His longest kick as a freshman was 47 yards.

Scary good night in NCL III soccer

A little crystal ball work tells me that Oct. 31 could be a good day for North Central League III girls soccer watchers. That is when the Knights of Roseland University Prep host the Titans of Tech High. Both are vying for a league title and the two are nearly knotted at the top of the standings. To make it all that much more dramatic, it’s Halloween and Senior Night and the last game of the regular season. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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