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Season Finale Losses At Hilmar For Volleyball Girls
Escalons Natalie Bianchi, right, gets in position to dig the ball during play earlier this season on the home court as teammate Lexi Wheeler, 18, looks on. The varsity squad was scheduled to open the Division IV playoffs on the road Tuesday night at Central Catholic. Marg Jackson/The Times

Wrapping up the Trans-Valley League campaign on the road, Escalon’s varsity volleyball squad fell to host Hilmar in straight sets, 3-0 on Oct. 25. Scores were 7-25, 12-25 and 12-25 with the Lady Cougars unable to sustain much pressure against the tough Yellowjackets on their home court.

Jaden Scott did tally 11 kills in the three-game set, while Brielle Arauza had 17 assists. Leading the way in digs were Natalie Bianchi and Tiana Lopez with seven apiece, Jordin Jensen added three aces and Hannah Murphy came away with two blocks.

The finale saw the Cougars drop back to a 6-4 mark in TVL play, and earning the number 13 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. They were slated to travel to nearby Central Catholic in Modesto for opening round action on Tuesday night, Nov. 1, after The Times went to press.

Four teams made the playoffs out of the TVL, paced by top seed Ripon. Hilmar got the second seed, Escalon was 13 and Hughson squeaked in with a number 14 seed. If the Cougars win against Central, they would play on Thursday, taking on the winner of the No. 5 Bear River-No. 12 Dixon match-up from the opening round. They would travel to face the winner in a 7 p.m. contest on Nov. 3.

Head coach Teresa Williamson said she was very pleased with the overall effort of the squad in league play this season and enjoyed watching them come together as a team.



Like their older counterparts, it was a disappointing end to the season for the JV girls, falling to Hilmar as well. They battled hard but ultimately lost in two, 15-25, 23-25. The JV girls ended the league campaign at 5-5.

“I’m not sure where we are in league because we tied with Hughson, and Ripon and Hilmar tied their wins and losses,” coach Krystal Rodriguez said.

Hilmar and Ripon were the leaders in wins, Hughson and Escalon coming in second in terms of the win/loss record.

Rodriguez was hoping to steal one on the road against Hilmar but the team couldn’t quite get the points they needed.

“My girls gave it all they had and played some amazing volleyball, especially their last set,” said Rodriguez. “Mya Beary dominated her front row and led in attacks, having 15 attempts and five kills. She’s really learning how to smash the ball.”

There was one she hit so hard, added Rodriguez, that “she had Hilmar parents oohing and aahing.”

Leila Phillips and Alexia Johnson each had a great hitting game for the JV girls while Alisa Herrera showed great improvement each time out on the floor, as did Sage Davis.

“Davis had the only solo block of the night and I’m so proud of both of these girls (Davis and Herrera) for always persevering through their season,” Rodriguez noted.

Tess Cosby led the defense with 12 digs and had a strong serve receive night, along with Madisyn Widmer. Marissa Gonzalez had six digs and Phillips had eight digs.

“Hunter Wheeler had the most serves with nine attempts and one ace and Madisyn had seven attempts and two aces,” said Rodriguez. “This is a great group of girls … they’ve all learned a lot this season and if I could point out one thing they’ve worked really hard on, it is how to talk on and off the court.”



In their season finale, the youngest Lady Cougars took the loss, falling to Hilmar in a 22-25, 14-25 decision on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Melanie Smith paced the effort with five kills, Natalie Cortes had eight assists and Camryn Rodenburg had nine digs.

“Overall we had nine wins and eight losses,” said first year head coach Morgan Jensen of her freshman squad.

In Trans-Valley League play, the girls had three wins and five losses.

“To me, our freshman team had a very successful season. Most of the girls started the year never having played volleyball before and ended up learning more than most do in their first year,” Jensen pointed out. “They had amazing attitudes, were willing to learn new things, and they exploded with so much Cougar pride on and off the court I was blessed to call myself their coach. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to coach these Lady Cougars and I can’t wait to see what these next few years have in store for these great athletes.”