A trio of hard fought non-league battles went into the win column for Escalon’s varsity volleyball girls, as they defeated East Union, Oakdale and Tokay.
Against East Union, the Lady Cougars took a 3-1 win after falling in the opening set, 25-27. They battled back to rattle off three straight, 25-20, 25-15, 25-14 to take the win.
Leaders in kills were Melanie Smith with 10 and Mandy Murphy right behind with nine.
Hannah Boyd had 30 assists in the contest while Smith added five blocks. Murphy and Meadow Naraghi each had four aces, Tess Cosby had 24 digs.
A match at nearby Oakdale saw another fierce battle, with the Lady Cougars ultimately taking the 3-2 win. Scores were 15-25, 25-21, 12-25, 25-23 and 18-16.
“We are playing well. We have a habit of starting slow; however, they really pick it up when it counts,” said coach Teresa Williamson. “I would have to say they showed a lot of heart during the Oakdale match. They never gave up and pulled out a huge victory.”
Murphy notched 20 kills against Oakdale while the assists leader was Boyd with 33. Smith had three blocks, Naraghi and Murphy each had two and Cosby added 24 digs.
Finally, the girls took a 3-2 win over Tokay, again falling to open the match but coming back to win. Scores in that contest were 25-27, 25-18, 14-25, 25-23 and 15-10.
Cosby had 29 digs on the night while Murphy had a stellar night with 20 kills and three blocks. Smith had three blocks and also notched 14 kills to go along with two aces. Boyd had 46 assists.
The varsity girls were slated to travel to Linden for a Tuesday match, Sept. 4 and open up Trans-Valley League play at home hosting Hilmar on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
“That’s going to be a tough match,” Williamson said.
The JV Lady Cougars fell on the road at Oakdale on Aug. 29 in straight sets, 16-25, 23-25.
“Oakdale has always been a great team to play in preseason,” said coach Krystal Rodriguez. “They’re tough and competitive, exactly what we need right before league starts. Playing this game shows us exactly what we need to work on, which we’ve been doing this week.”
The squad also faced off with Tokay in recent action, another tough opponent. This time, it was a win for Escalon, 26-24, 20-25, 15-2.
“Yup, almost a shutout,” Rodriguez noted of the deciding game. “League starts this week and you can see the team is starting to register that. They’re playing harder and going faster. Still working on communication but that’ll come.”
Against Tokay, Koren Rodriguez had four kills on 11 attempts from her left side hitter position. Madison Faria had 12 assists and the coach gave her “kudos for serving 10 out of 15 balls” in the third set.
“She actually made the (Tokay) coach call both of her timeouts, so needless to say I’m very proud of her serving consistency.”
Kailey Costa came in with 24 digs and “played an amazing defensive game,” added Rodriguez.
Against Oakdale on Aug. 29, the youngest Lady Cougars took a 2-1 win off the court. Scores were not available at press time.
Earlier action saw the frosh girls take on St. Mary’s and they went to three sets with them.
“I will say that set one was a warm-up for us ... we lost 18-25,” explained freshman coach Nicole Bianchi. “While that doesn’t seem like a major defeat, the team was making a lot of simple mistakes. I will chalk it up to first home game nerves.”
However, the girls came back stronger and more confident in the second set and won 25-23.
“In set three, the team carried the same momentum but St. Mary’s outhustled us and we lost 11-15,” Bianchi said. “Grace Ferreira led in digs with nine total and zero errors and she also led in kills with four total kills. Matty Bollen and Ashley Espino also had two kills each.”
Bollen had one solo block while Haylee Barajas led in serving aces with four total.
“She was very strong in the serving area,” Bianchi said of Barajas. “I am very proud to say the team found themselves in the second set and got out of their heads to come back against St. Mary’s, which is a very strong team. It was a very competitive volleyball match all together.”