Hosting Hilmar in their regular season finale, the Escalon varsity volleyball girls came up just a bit short, falling 3-2 to the Trans-Valley League champions.
The Senior Night contest on Nov. 2 saw recognition for the senior players and parents prior to the first serve and the Lady Cougars started the night out strong, winning the first game 25-19.
They went on to win game two by a 26-24 final in a back-and-forth battle, taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the best three out of five match. But Hilmar battled back, dropping Escalon 22-25 in game three and 14-25 in game four. The resilient Yellowjackets then took the fifth and final game, handing Escalon a 10-15 loss to win the match 3-2.
“It was not just one thing I can point to,” coach Kayla Kootstra said of being unable to get that third game win to put the match away. “They (Hilmar) started leaning on Emily (Baptista) a lot more, she got them through the third game and to the fourth.”
Escalon also made uncharacteristic service errors that hurt them in the long run.
“I’m proud of the girls, they fought hard and I couldn’t ask them to play much harder. We had 15 service errors on the night, we just don’t do that,” noted Kootstra. “It was good for our girls play tough against a good team, they are seeded number two in the Section, we learned we can play with them.”
Kylee Irwin-Paz had 17 kills, Cydney Keener had 50 assists.
“We had three players in double digit kills,” Kootstra added. “Maddie Nicholas had 13, Nicole Sarkozy had 10. Taylor Laugero had 20 digs and four aces, Maddie had 13 digs so she had a double-double on the night, and Reily Rocha had three blocks.”
Escalon closed out the Trans-Valley League campaign with a 9-3 mark, tied for second place with Ripon. They were awarded the sixth seed for the playoffs, and were scheduled to host number 11 Bret Harte on Tuesday, Nov. 10 after The Times went to press.
“They are a pretty good team, they lost in the finals of the Oakdale tournament to Hilmar,” Kootstra said. “We need to go in with a well-rounded attack.”