Going in to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV volleyball playoffs, the Escalon varsity girls took down Central Catholic in the opening round. That moved them to the quarterfinals, where they came up against a tough Bear River team and ultimately, were defeated and knocked out of the section competition.
“The game against Central was a great game. These girls stepped up and played amazing,” said head coach Teresa Williamson of the opening round contest at Central on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Escalon, seeded No. 13, took the win against the No. 4 seed host Raiders in straight sets, 25-23, 25-17, 25-21.
“It was a collaboration of a team effort,” added Williamson. “We did go in a little wary facing the number four seed, but it sure didn’t show on the court.”
Jaden Scott had 13 kills on the night while Kaitlyn Herrera had 10. Brielle Arauza set up her teammates throughout the match, collecting 36 assists and Natalie Bianchi had 20 digs. Scott and Herrera also paced the team in aces, Scott with four and Herrera with three, while Scott and Hannah Murphy each had three blocks in the victory.
The Tuesday night win put Escalon back on the road Thursday, Nov. 3 as they headed to Bear River to take on the number five seed. Bear River had handled number 12 Dixon, 3-0, in the opening round on Tuesday.
In the contest, the Lady Cougars fell by a 3-1 final, losing the opener, battling back to get game two, then falling in a pair of close contests to the host team.
“The game against Bear River was a little frustrating for the girls. They started slow as you can see with game one scores,” Williamson said of the 11-25 loss in the opener. “Then they picked it up and played the best volleyball I had seen them play.”
Escalon took game two 25-19, drawing even with the host team and then lost by a 19-25 decision, with the last game coming down to the final match point, Bear River winning over the Lady Cougars, 24-26.
“Brielle Arauza mixed up her set better than I have seen her do all year. She had 36 assists total,” said Williamson. “Spreading it out with Jaden Scott 14 kills, Kaitlyn Herrera and Hannah Murphy with eight kills each, Jordin Jensen with six kills and Peyton Arnold with three.”
Bianchi again led the team in digs with 16, Meadow Naraghi was also in double digits with 10 while Murphy came up with seven big blocks. Jordin Jensen and Arauza had three aces apiece.
“The team served a 94 percent average. It was really fun to watch them,” said Williamson. “They took the loss hard but I couldn’t have been more proud of the heart and dedication they put in.”
Escalon was one of four Trans-Valley League teams to make the D-IV playoffs. Hughson was knocked out in the opening round, Escalon made it to the quarterfinals. Top seed Ripon and number two Hilmar were still playing, each with a game scheduled on Tuesday night, after The Times went to press. Ripon was to host No. 5 Bear River and Hilmar hosted No. 3 Bret Harte, with winners of those matches going on to meet for the Section title.
As difficult as it was to see the Lady Cougars end their season, Williamson said the squad gave everything they had, leaving it all out on the court.
“I pushed those girls hard and they amaze me with how much more they keep giving,” Williamson said. “I look forward to next year.”