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Lady Cougars Netters Poised For Final Game
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Teamwork was the watchword for Escalon's varsity Lady Cougars this week, the squad continuing its solid play as the Trans-Valley League season winds down.

The girls were winners at home on Tuesday, Oct. 26 against Patterson and then topped Ripon Christian in the regular season home finale - Senior Night - on Thursday, Oct. 28.

"Those were a couple of real good team wins," said coach Rusty Fachner. "We had lots of people getting involved."

Players that contributed in the 3-0 effort against Patterson were Brittany Rigg and Kacey Ball.

"Brittany played extremely well and Kacey did a good job in the middle," explained Fachner. "It was pretty much a businesslike effort, we went in there, got the job done and said 'let's go home'."

Escalon swept the Tigers, 25-13, 25-16, 25-15 with 11 kills from Chelsea Fachner and 11 assists from Michele Barajas. Emily McCants, Barajas, Fachner and Steph Williamson all added a block, with two aces from Barajas and 11 digs from Williamson.

"I was very, very pleased with that match," added Fachner. "It doesn't always have to be perfect, we just take care of business."

The coach added that he continues to be excited about the performance of his daughter Chelsea, who has taken on the leadership role for the squad.

"We keep getting huge efforts out of Chelsea, she has been phenomenal," he admitted. "She will leave Escalon High School as the all-time kills leader, the all-time blocks leader, she has surpassed her older sister (EHS alum Sarah Fachner) in those categories."

Also playing well on Tuesday were Emily McCants and Michelle Williams, along with Sandi French.

"Emily has really come on in the last few games, Michelle is passing the ball better and we are consistently getting a good effort out of Sandi," said Fachner.

Thursday, the girls were on the home court again and this time, saluted the contributions of seniors Michele Barajas, Chelsea Fachner, Sandi French and Michelle Williams, recognized at center court with family members prior to the start of competition.

"That match scared me a little," said Fachner. "Ripon Christian is getting better and I was afraid it was a match we might overlook, plus with it being Senior Night, there's that distraction but we stepped up to the plate."

The girls were 25-18, 25-16, 25-17 winners over the visiting RC team, with contributions again coming from all corners.

"Stephanie Williamson and Michele Barajas, in tandem, played the best match they've had together all year," pointed out Fachner. "Megan Warren was very aggressive, she came out and did some good things, as did Kacey Ball in the middle."

Williamson had 10 kills and 10 assists, Barajas had 12 assists and three aces. Three blocks each came from Fachner and Brittany Rigg, while Ashley Brown contributed a dozen digs.

"On defense, Ashley Brown and Jenna Martin just sparkled," said Fachner. "Senior night can be tough because it can be an emotional experience, both positive and negative, but we were ready to play."

Fachner also praised the presence of the band, there to provide some dramatic musical accompaniment during timeouts and in between matches.

"The band has just been wonderful, the atmosphere it sets is just so cool," said Fachner.

With the wins, the varsity girls are still poised to battle Ripon in the regular season finale for a share of the title. They were scheduled to play at Riverbank on Tuesday, Nov. 2 after The Times went to press and travel to Ripon for the final game of the regular season today, Wednesday, Nov. 3 with a 6:30 p.m. start.

"It's a neat situation," Fachner said. "The worst that's going to happen to us is we finish in second place, at best we win and share the title with them."

Fachner said the scenario seems to work in his team's favor.

"You hate to say you have nothing to lose but we really don't," he pointed out. "The pressure is on them to win, we can play loose and easygoing, they have to hold serve so we can go out, have fun and free wheel it."

The game is expected to be played before a capacity crowd and Fachner said he hopes as many people will come to support the Lady Cougars at Ripon as they did here when Ripon came to town.

Ripon will win the TVL title outright with a victory, the two teams will share the crown if Escalon takes the contest.