Fresh off the first ever Section title for girls volleyball in school history, the Escalon Lady Cougars headed into the NorCals with the chance to play some more volleyball at home.
They first faced off with Sierra Pacific on Nov. 12, then hosted Lincoln of San Francisco on Nov. 14. Victories in both those matches put the girls into the regional quarterfinals, where they lost to a tough Aptos team, ending their season on Saturday, Nov. 15.
In action against Sierra Pacific, it was a 3-0 sweep for the number three seeded Lady Cougars, 25-23, 25-10, 25-12.
Hannah Boyd had 30 assists and eight digs on the night with libero Tess Cosby adding 20 digs.
Mandy Murphy had 13 kills, three aces, four blocks, and nine digs, with freshman Emily Vickers contributing with 10 kills and four digs. Mya Beary notched two aces and had six kills as well.
Two nights later, on Thursday, Nov. 14, it took everything the team had to come away with the victory. They welcomed in Lincoln of San Francisco and, after battling to a 26-24 win in the first set, went down 19-25, 11-25. Faced with win or be done, the girls came away with a 25-19 victory in the fourth set. Then they put Lincoln on the road home with a 15-13 victory in the fifth and deciding set – with some much needed support from the home crowd.
“This was a battle the entire game. We won the first set, then lost the next two. We won set four and gained some momentum,” said head coach Teresa Williamson. “Going into set five the entire crowd got on their feet and started cheering. It was an amazing feeling. It gave the girls energy and fire.”
On the night, Boyd tallied 38 assists, three aces and 11 digs and Koren Rodriguez had eight digs. Cosby had 26 digs and Murphy again came up huge for the varsity girls, with 25 kills, 13 digs and three blocks. The team was also without senior captain Melanie Smith, who was ill and unable to play, but sat with her team to lend moral support.
“We knew going into set five it wasn’t going to be easy. I just told them, it is do or die. They had to rally together and that is exactly what they did,” Williamson noted. “It was a great win.”
Sage Davis played some solid minutes, with three digs and four blocks and Elise Gonzales had three blocks. Vickers notched 17 kills, two aces and six digs, with Beary chipping in with six kills, two aces and two digs.
“Tess Cosby and Koren Rodriguez played some amazing defense. Natalie Cortes got some key digs. Hannah Boyd moved the ball around very well,” added Williamson. “Mandy Murphy, Emily Vickers, and Mya Beary mixed their hits up and played fantastic game at the net. Sage Davis and Elise Gonzales dominated the net with their blocking.”
That put Escalon at 31 wins for the season and set the stage for a regional quarterfinals match on Saturday evening, Nov. 16. Battling against a tall, tough and focused Aptos team, the Lady Cougars fell by a 3-0 decision, 19-25, 22-25, 11-25.
Boyd had 36 assists and eight digs, Cosby had 26 digs and Murphy had 12 kills and five digs. Vickers served up two aces, had four digs and eight kills, with Smith back on the court to deliver eight kills. Rodriguez had nine digs.
“This was another battle. They played exceptional volleyball in set one and two. Unfortunately we made too many errors,” the coach explained. “With this close of a game, those errors were costly. They never gave up and fought until the end.”
The large crowd on hand gave the Lady Cougars a standing ovation after the game, as their season came to an end. They finished the season with 31 wins and 10 losses.
“We have had an outstanding season and I am so proud of these girls,” Williamson said, pointing to the Section title win and the strong run through the NorCals. “That is a huge accomplishment for all.”