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Lady Cougars Notch Two Victories In League Play
vball trio
Ready in the back row for the serve receive are, from left, Natalie Bianchi, Nicole Sarkozy and Maddie Nicholas. Marg Jackson/The Times


Games against Mountain House and Modesto Christian both went the minimum – three games – as Escalon crafted a pair of Trans-Valley League victories on the volleyball court this week.

Head coach Kayla Kootstra said the girls hosted Mountain House on Monday, Sept. 28 and took the win, 25-5, 25-12, 25-14.

“They just struggled,” Kootstra said of the young Mountain House Mustangs team. “Their serve receive wasn’t great and we made sure to get our serves in.”

Kylee Irwin-Paz went on a 13-point service run in the first game to lift the Lady Cougars to an 18-3 lead, allowing them to cruise to the win.

That also allowed the coach to juggle the line up in the second game, getting everyone into the contest.

“Taylor (Laugero) and Kylee didn’t even play the second game,” Kootstra explained. “Cydney (Keener) went in to set, I moved Nicole (Sarkozy) to the outside and I was able to put Sarah (Leal) in to play, I wanted to get everyone in and see what some of my other players can do.”

Games two and three saw Mountain House pick up a few more points, but Escalon was in control throughout the match, taking the 3-0 league win.

Wednesday, the girls traveled to Modesto Christian to take on the Lady Crusaders. That school this year only has a varsity team, so there was no freshman or JV action.

“We didn’t play our best volleyball, we missed eight serves over three games and that is something we need to work on,” noted Kootstra. “We made a lot of errors but pulled out the win.”

Scores against Modesto Christian were 25-12, 25-18, 25-18.

“They did a good job of figuring out their mistakes and not making them again,” Kootstra said, adding that her team also battled back from a bit of adversity against the host Modesto Christian team.

“We were down or tied in all three games,” the coach explained.

Leading the charge with some solid service runs were Laugero, Sarkozy and Jaden Scott.

The JV and freshman girls got on the court for just one match apiece this week, squaring off with Mountain House on Monday. Both squads were straight set winners.

Junior varsity head coach Krystal Rodriguez said her team got past Mountain House 25-20 in the first game, 25-7 in the second.

“The practice before your game you always remind your athletes to never underestimate your opponent and to understand every team grows with each year just like ourselves,” Rodriguez noted. “In the first match I believe my girls underestimated Mountain House and it played a part with the ending score. The second match the girls picked it up in all areas, both offense and defense doing their jobs.”

Amanda Salvador had 20 serve attempts for the JV girls and within those 20 had eight aces with only one error, scoring 18 points for her team.

“Brielle Arauza also served very well, having 14 attempts, three aces and only one error,” Rodriguez said. “Dalsin Alves played one of her best games, learning how to take control of the speed of play. She had nine attempts with four kills and one block giving her a 44 percent kill average.”

Teammate Hannah Murphy was right behind her with seven attempts, three kills and a 42.9 percent kill average.

“We’re a very good serving team and have lots of potential. I can see their passion for the game, and I love that,” Rodriguez added.

This week, Escalon was scheduled to host Hughson on Monday, after sports press time for The Times and will play at Hilmar on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Both games should be a big test for the varsity squad, coach Kootstra said.

“Hughson is an improved team, we saw them play at the Oakdale Tournament,” she noted. “If we can get past them, it will set up a showdown on Wednesday.”

If Escalon gets the win against the Huskies, they head to Hilmar, and both teams will go into that Wednesday match undefeated in Trans-Valley League play.