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Tough Stretch In TVL Action For Volleyball
10 SET
Junior varsity player Leila Phillips, 10, sets the ball during Thursday nights home contest against Hilmar. It was a 2-1 loss for the host JV Lady Cougars, their second defeat of the week. Marg Jackson/The Times

Escalon’s varsity Lady Cougars got a split in their games this week, while both the JV and freshmen took a pair of losses. Matches on the road at Hughson and on the home court against Hilmar were both tough on all three squads, battling to the end.

Tuesday, Sept. 27 saw the teams head to Hughson.

After falling in game one by a 21-25 final, the varsity squad had to come back and find a way to win. They did that, taking the host Lady Huskies down in the next three, 25-21, 25-13, 25-18.

Jaden Scott had 12 kills, Brielle Arauza 27 assists and 14 digs and Natalie Bianchi added 17 digs.

“Tiana Lopez had 11 digs and four aces, Hannah Murphy had five blocks,” noted head coach Teresa Williamson.

Coming off the win, the girls were at home to host Hilmar on Thursday, Sept. 29, meeting the Yellowjackets and playing to a 3-2 defeat in a marathon match.

“This was a tough match to lose. Both teams are very evenly matched, we just made a few too many mistakes,” said Williamson.

Scores for the match were 25-20, 14-25, 18-25, 25-23, 11-15.

Scott notched 20 kills, Arauza had 36 assists, Meadow Naraghi added four aces and Bianchi recorded 23 digs. Kaitlyn Herrera and Scott had two blocks each.

“The girls played great, we just couldn’t seem to pull it out,” Williamson added. “I am very proud of how they are playing. They never give up.”



Like their older counterparts, the JV girls battled in their matches this week.

At Hughson on Tuesday, the JV lost the first game 19-25, rebounded with a 26-24 win in the middle set and then fell 10-15 to lose by a 2-1 final.

“The girls played well but I feel we could have finished the ball better and could have played smarter,” coach Krystal Rodriguez explained.

Back on the home court, they lost by the same 2-1 decision, this time to Hilmar on Thursday, 25-20, 23-25, 9-15.

“Hard loss against Hilmar, the girls played extremely good volleyball,” said Rodriguez. “Each week they’re learning more and realizing they’re stronger than they think. Less errors on our side and finishing smarter is on our agenda.”

Mya Beary led in attacks against the Yellowjackets with 19 attempts and four kills. Hunter Wheeler had 19 assists and Leila Phillips had two solo blocks and served strong for her team. Tess Cosby had 17 digs and carried the back row very well as Libero.

“I was very pleased with our defense against Hilmar,” noted Rodriguez.



Taking both matches to three games, both of them went in the loss column for the youngest Lady Cougar volleyball players this week, in what turned out to be a learning experience.

“Tough loss for the girls,” coach Morgan Jensen said of the Tuesday night road match at Hughson. “We lost in three games, 14-25, 25-22, 7-15. We dug ourselves into a hole the first game, giving Hughson a 9-point lead at one point. The second game Hughson didn’t have a lead greater than three points and I truly think that’s why we won the second match.”

Jensen said the girls got into a groove and played solid against the Huskies.

“We were winning long rally plays, building our momentum back up on our side, and focusing on keeping the ball in play,” said Jensen.

The third game was the same as the first, however, with the Lady Huskies building up a 9-point lead and winning the match.

“My girls had some great plays and I think that this experience taught them to fight for every point in all games from here on out,” added the coach.

Julia Castillas led in kills with five, Natalie Cortes had six assists. Melanie Smith led in digs with 11 with Camryn Rodenburg adding eight.

The freshmen lost to visiting Hilmar on Thursday in three games, 25-13, 13-23, 7-15. Castillas led in kills with five, Cortes notched seven assists. Rodenburg paced the team in digs with 10.

“Julia Castillas also had two amazing blocks,” said Jensen. “We were a little disappointed that we lost the game but they had some amazing plays.”