In a battle of undefeated teams, Hilmar came out on top of Escalon on the volleyball court in Trans-Valley League play.
The Monday, Oct. 13 contest saw the Yellowjackets win it in three, said coach Kayla Kootstra, but Escalon had its chances to take control.
“We started out okay, but struggled toward the end of the first game,” Kootstra said, noting that they fell 15-25 in the opener.
“We had game point in game two and we lost that one, 24-26,” she said. “Then we were up by nine (points) in game three but our serve receive fell apart and we let them back in, we lost that one 28-30.”
The frustrating night dropped Escalon into second place in the TVL behind Hilmar and Kootstra said her team fought hard but couldn’t overcome their own miscues.
“The girls battled but we never should have been to that point,” she explained. “We have been working now on putting games away when we have the chance.”
Had they done that against Hilmar, the outcome might have been different.
Kylee Irwin-Paz had 11 kills in the game, Sarah Leal added seven. Jaden Scott had three aces, while Taylor Laugero had 14 digs and 34 assists.
“Our middle blockers are better than theirs,” Kootstra said, “but our serve receive just wasn’t getting it to them consistently enough.”
The team regrouped and defeated Modesto Christian in Wednesday action, sweeping the Crusaders off the court with a 3-0 victory.
“We came out pretty strong won the first game 25-8,” Kootstra said.
But Brooke Silva sprained her ankle about midway through that contest and a makeshift line-up pulled together for the victory.
“Game two I went with a different line up and for whatever reason, it didn’t work well,” Kootstra explained. “We were behind for most of the game, but we did come back to win it 26-24.”
Game 3 was a 25-18 win for Escalon.
“We served well and had 12 aces as a team,” Kootstra said of the match, with three apiece from Savannah Guerra, Taylor Laugero and Jaden Scott. Laugero added 11 digs and 27 assists, Irwin-Paz had 12 kills and eight digs.
Keeping up a hectic pace, the girls then traveled to take part in the Stockton Classic Tournament over the weekend and put it all together, coming home with first place honors.
“That was really nice, coming off the loss from Monday and not playing particularly well,” Kootstra said.
Friday night, the girls split a pair of contests, then had four matches and won all four on Saturday to capture the Classic crown.
“We played Liberty in the championship and beat them in three,” Kootstra said, noting that the team learned the Brentwood area school is the alma mater of EHS golf coach (and former volleyball coach) Rusty Fachner.
Laugero was named the tournament MVP and the work over the weekend hopefully got some late season kinks worked out, as the girls make a push for the playoffs.
It was a split of league games for the junior varsity girls this week, as they mirrored their varsity counterparts and fell to Hilmar while topping Modesto Christian.
Coach Tanya Fry reported the team scores as 18-25, 15-25 in the loss to the Crusaders, while the JV squad had to battle to win the opener against MC, 27-25, then took care of business in much quicker fashion in game two, winning 25-11.
Not all Trans-Valley League team have freshman squads, but the youngest Lady Cougars got in a pair of matches this week, defeating Hilmar and then getting past Ripon Christian in non-league play. Coach Krystal Rodriguez said the team has come together well and is playing strong, courtesy of facing some tough non-league opponents in preseason. The freshmen topped Hilmar 25-8, 25-13 and then were just as efficient against RC, 25-9, 25-16.
“Priscilla Nowling is showing a huge amount of growth in the middle and serving, Kaitlyn Herrera is a right side hitter who is a good all-around player,” Rodriguez said of some standouts for the week. “Brianna Martins in middle back is excelling at that position and Tiana Lopez, my libero, also has a beautiful jump serve.
“All the players are continuing to grow.”