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Back-To-Back Section Titles For EHS Volleyball
E champs
Escalon’s Lady Cougars literally jump for joy after scoring the final point in a three-set sweep of Sonora in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 finals on Nov. 6. Shown are Emily Vickers, 5; Leah Wheeler; 12; Mandy Murphy, at center; Madellyn Spurgeon, 17; and Rylie Lattig, at right. Obscured on the left, behind Vickers, is Mallory Berhorst. Marg Jackson/The Times

For senior Mandy Murphy and junior Emily Vickers, the second time around was even sweeter.

The two varsity Lady Cougar volleyball players – this year’s team captains – helped secure the second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section title for the program. The varsity squad defeated Sonora, 3-0, in the championship match on Saturday, Nov. 6. (See game story, photos in Sports, Page A7.)

After winning the first-ever Section blue banner for the volleyball program in 2019, the COVID-impacted 2020 campaign did not have any playoffs. This year, with a full season and postseason, Escalon made it back to defend the title they won in 2019. And with a 3-0 sweep of all four opponents they faced in the Division 4 playoffs, the blue banner came back to Escalon on Saturday afternoon.

The match was played at Ripon High School and plenty of fans were there to support both teams, filling the stands.

In a match that took roughly an hour, Escalon defeated Sonora in impressive fashion, 25-14, 25-22, 25-10.

“Honestly, it feels really good, I feel really accomplished, especially after losing a year to COVID I think I took advantage of my last opportunity to have a good season, a good year,” said Murphy, who was a sophomore during the 2019 Section championship season. “I think ending with another section title, the second one we’ve ever had, and I got to be on the team for both of those, just really proud and I’m very fortunate to have Teresa (Williamson) as my coach, that has been really good.”

Escalon controlled the tempo of the match for the most part, and Murphy said it was not as much of a battle as the team anticipated.

“I didn’t think we were going to sweep them because we had played them in the first game of the season and we won in four,” explained Murphy. “I was kind of expecting to go to four or five sets but I think we just really came in with some good energy. I know we were all a little bit nervous but knowing that we had the ability to beat them helped with our win. We’ve been having really good team chemistry and we just played really well together.”

Vickers, on the varsity team as a freshman who made an impact in 2019, was back to defend the title as a junior.

“It feels so good, I knew this team was going to be so good since my eighth grade year. I mean, I called it, I was like I am so ready for my junior year, I know how far we’re going to go and it just feels so good that we’re accomplishing what we said we would,” Vickers pointed out. “Everyone did their job.”

There’s also nothing more the junior would like than being back in the same position come next season.

“We’re losing key players but I think all around we’re good individuals so I don’t think we’ll miss a beat,” she said.

Senior Grace Ferreira, serving as libero, was happy to have the chance for postseason play, after never had that opportunity previously.

“I feel honored, we didn’t get to do this last year and I don’t even know how to describe it; it just feels really good,” Ferreira said.

Along with head coach Teresa Williamson, the playoff coaching corps included assistants Stephanie Ceja, Krystal Rodriguez and Shaylynn Beam.

The postseason roster, expanded to bring up some underclassmen, included Grace Ferreira, Macie Vickers, Sophia Martin, Gianna Bava, Emily Vickers, Faye Hernandez, Lisa Murga, Rylie Lattig, Leah Wheeler, Emily Middleton, Madellyn Spurgeon, Valeria Gonzalez, Amanda ‘Mandy’ Murphy, Haylee Barajas, Carsyn Hood, Mallory Berhorst and Bella Cormack.

Junior Rylie Lattig, also in the postseason for the first time, was succinct in her assessment of the Section championship.

“It’s freakin’ awesome,” Lattig said.

Smiling as she heads toward her team, head coach Teresa Williamson has the golden volleyball and the Section title blue banner in hand, after coaching the Lady Cougars to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 crown. Marg Jackson/The Times