Just one match was on the schedule this past week for the Lady Cougar volleyball teams, as they started action in the Trans-Valley League.
Competition was on Tuesday, Sept. 7 as Escalon hosted the always tough Hilmar Lady Yellowjackets.
At the varsity level, Escalon took a 3-1 win off the court.
“We started set one off strong,” explained head coach Teresa Williamson, noting they made relatively quick work of the visitors in a 25-11 opener.
But, the next three were tougher, said the coach.
“We played too relaxed after that,” she admitted.
Taking the second set 25-19, Hilmar rallied to cut the deficit to 2-1 with a win, 25-23, against the host squad. Escalon, however, turned the tables and nailed down the win with a 25-16 run in the fourth set.
Rylie Lattig had three aces and 29 assists; Emily Vickers added 18 kills and 17 digs. Also playing strong was Mandy Murphy, notching 14 kills and 10 digs. Bella Cormack had four blocks.
“We only have one game this week, against Ripon on Thursday (Sept. 16),” Williamson said, the team looking to start TVL play at 2-0. Varsity start time is approximately 6 p.m.
Heading into the league opener, head coach Krystal Rodriguez said her team felt they were ready, and were eager to face off with what they termed their “greatest competitor” in the TVL.
“We went in feeling very optimistic and confident and was handed a big dose of reality,” said Rodriguez. “Never underestimate the unknown. We honestly didn’t know what to expect with this season ahead and that’s what happened.”
After losing the first set, 17-25, the JV girls found themselves in a huge hole, looking at a 14 point deficit in the second set.
“At 2-16 they turned on,” explained Rodriguez. “I had called a time out and said what they needed to hear and lit their fire. Lisa Murga getting in three points with her serving followed by the consistency of Natalie Titsworth’s serve getting us 14 points gave us the lead.”
Rodriguez said some aces and some points were given “where the team had to come together” and fight for those crucial points.
“They needed an energy boost and that was it,” said the coach. “The third set they won 15-4 and we barely got a full rotation in which goes to show they have the potential to win it all.”
And while the JV girls put the hard fought win on the books, Rodriguez said it was much more than a single victory.
“They learned communication is key. Without it there’s nothing,” she said. “No plays, balls hitting the floor and girls running into each other. That’s our focus this week. Talking on the court.”
Ripon and Escalon face off Thursday, Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. in Escalon.
The opening game of the trio of contests on Sept. 7 saw the freshman girls fall to the visiting Hilmar squad in a 2-1 final.
“We lost in three but the girls played hard and we know what to work on in practice for the next time we face them” said coach Shay Beam. “We play Ripon Thursday at home and that’s always a match to look forward to.”
The freshman game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start time.