Kicking off the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs at home, the Escalon varsity volleyball girls hosted Mariposa on Tuesday, Nov. 12 and came away with a 3-0 win.
The sweep looked anything but possible as the host Lady Cougars got off on the wrong foot, struggling to return balls and initially having a hard time against a taller Mariposa squad. When the score was several points in favor of the visitors, head coach Teresa Williamson took a time out to settle her troops.
“My team is traditionally a slow starter,” the coach admitted, noting that this being the first playoff game for the majority of the team may also have had an impact. But the time out helped the players gather themselves and return to the court with a renewed drive and they steadily chipped away at the 8-point Mariposa lead, tied them and then took the lead for themselves, eventually winning the opener 26-24.
From there, it was a 25-10 win in game two, 25-21 in game three for the 3-0 victory to start the playoff run.
“Mariposa was a tough team,” said Williamson. “We played well.”
Key to the comeback were solid serving and some clutch points from Brooke Silva, Taylor Laugero and Cassidy Caton, with the team also getting topnotch defense, especially from Silva.
“It was the best defense I have seen her play this season,” said Williamson.
Laugero had 14 assists, Caton had eight kills and four aces, Silva had seven kills, with two blocks from Kylee Irwin-Paz and nine digs from Caton, Silva and Savannah Guerra.
The win put Escalon on the road for a Thursday, Nov. 14 contest at Calaveras and this time, it was a 3-1 win for the Lady Cougars.
“Both teams played very good volleyball,” said Williamson.
Escalon fell in the first game, 15-25, then came back to battle for the next three, winning 26-24, 25-23, 25-23 in one of the toughest matches of the season.
Laugero had 28 assists with Caton coming away from the contest with 17 kills, 17 digs and five aces, Silva had 17 digs and Irwin-Paz added three big blocks on the night.
The girls were scheduled to play against host Sonora in the semifinals of the Division IV bracket on Tuesday, Nov. 19 after The Times went to press. A win there would put them into the Section final on Thursday, Nov. 21 at UC Davis.
“We faced them previously, early in the season,” Williamson said of having some idea of how to attack the Wildcats.
And despite being the lower seed from a smaller league, Williamson said she isn’t counting out her team.
“We’ve been playing some tough volleyball,” she said.