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Blue Banner For Lady Cougar Volleyball
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Varsity volleyball coach Teresa Williamson raises the golden volleyball in victory as she heads back to embrace her team following Escalon’s 3-2 win over Union Mine to bring home the Section title, the Division IV blue banner. Marg Jackson/The Times

History was made in Ripon on Saturday afternoon – as the Escalon Lady Cougars volleyball team brought home the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV blue banner.

It was the first time in Escalon High School history that volleyball has won a section title.

Head coach Teresa Williamson and her squad battled a tough and resilient Union Mine team on Nov. 9, the nearly two-hour marathon match ending with a 3-2 Escalon win.

“It’s history,” an exhausted but exhilarated Williamson said following the match. “First time ever.”

The girls took the floor at Ripon High School and battled but fell in the first set 21-25.

Shaking off the nerves, they came back to win the second 25-18 and then went up 2-1 with a 25-15 win in game three, the final point on an Emily Vickers kill.

Game four went to Union Mine in another back and forth battle, 18-25. That set up the deciding fifth game and it was clutch serving by Koren Rodriguez, steady setting by Hannah Boyd and timely kills from Melanie Smith and Mandy Murphy that made the difference for Escalon in the 15-11 win to claim the blue banner.

“It feels great,” said libero Tess Cosby, one of this year’s team captains. “Our hard work finally paid off.”

Escalon has been knocked out in the semifinal round the past few years and hadn’t been to a title game since 1998, when they lost to Linden.

Added senior and team captain Melanie Smith: “After trying to get there three years in a row, I am so glad I did it my senior year with these girls.”

Look for the full story and game photos in the Nov. 13 issue of The Times.

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Sending the ball back over the net is Escalon’s Melanie Smith, a senior team captain who came up with some clutch plays for the Lady Cougars in their Saturday, Nov. 9 section title win over the Union Mine Diamondbacks. Marg Jackson/The Times