By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Varsity, JV Volleyball Win, Freshmen Have Tough Week
Lining up the dig is varsity player Lexington Wheeler for Escalon as teammates Natalie Bianchi, 37, and Tiana Lopez, 1, look on. Escalons varsity girls defeated Ripon Christian and Riverbank on the court this week. Ric McGinnis/The Times

After dispatching Ripon Christian on the home court Tuesday, it was a three-game sweep in Riverbank to kick off the second half of league play.

Escalon’s varsity volleyball girls crafted a pair of wins on the court this week. They took down visiting RC in four on Oct. 4 after dropping the opener, 21-25. The girls stormed back to nail down a hard fought 3-1 win with scores of 25-22, 25-16, 25-15.

“Jaden Scott had 11 kills and eight aces,” head coach Teresa Williamson said of her on the court leader for the match. “Brielle Arauza had 17 assists, Tiana Lopez 10 digs and Hannah Murphy had three blocks.”

Thursday, the girls headed to nearby Riverbank, where they opened up the second half of Trans-Valley League action against the host Lady Bruins. The host team pushed them a little farther in each game, but Escalon came away with the 3-0 victory.

Scores were 25-17, 25-21, 27-25.

Williamson said some familiar names were among the team leaders for the contest.

“Jaden Scott led us with 15 kills, Brielle Arauza with 31 assists,” noted Williamson. “Tiana Lopez had 16 digs, Jordin Jensen with one block.”

The girls are slated to host Mountain House on Thursday, Oct. 13 and that is also scheduled to be celebrated as Senior Night.



Hosting Ripon Christian on Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Escalon JV girls battled to a 25-27, 25-21, 15-5 win.

“It’s always fun playing them because they always give the girls a great competitive match before their second round of league games,” said coach Krystal Rodriguez. “I feel this game was a breaking point for my team and they realized how important all nine of them are. They all played very well and had a part of our team win.”

Setter Hunter Wheeler had 12 assists and also led in serves having 27 attempts with four aces and only two errors.

“Hunter is very smart and at times can be a little quiet but she knows how to move her teammates around,” explained Rodriguez. “Alexia Johnson, another one of our strong hitters, served very well too that night. Mya Beary led in attacks with 26 attempts at net, 10 kills and only two errors. She’s also very smart on the court and is learning how to put the ball in holes. I am very proud of how well she is doing and how much she has grown.”

Libero Tess Cosby had 14 digs and, noted the coach, “rocked her serve receive.”

Cosby continues to be a big asset to the defense. Sage Davis continues to grow and learn each time she gets on the court.

“Madisyn Widmer is my tough utility player and captain this year and will go anywhere I ask her to,” explained Rodriguez. “She is also a very smart cookie when it comes to knowing the game and is learning what works best for the team.”

Opening up the second half of league play on the road Thursday, the JV girls headed to Riverbank and came away with a 25-14, 25-11 win.

“I tell my girls they can’t go into a game thinking anything but how hard they need to work because teams are getting better and faster just as they are. They need to go in preparing themselves to communicate with each other, compose themselves and their actions, and control the ball. I call it the triple C’s,” Rodriguez said. “It works very well with the girls and helps them understand how important those three things are in winning games.”

On the road, the squad had solid serving from Hunter Wheeler, Alexia Wheeler, Leila Phillips and Madisyn Widmer. Mya Beary had another great game at the net, with Hunter and Leila both having 20 attempts at setting and also both having seven assists

“Marissa Gonzalez is staying tough in her middle back position digging and receiving balls in defense. Tess Cosby also had a great game with 11 digs and an equally great serve receive, she holds our back row together and helps keep the ball going by staying quick on her feet,” said Rodriguez. “I feel like a lot of these wins wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have my right hand girl, Alisa Herrera. She may not be one that will have the highest stats or an official captain but I look to her as one and she is the glue that keeps our team keep fighting. I can always count on her to make sure things get done efficiently.”



After falling to Ripon Christian by a 6-25, 20-25 decision on Tuesday, Escalon’s youngest volleyball girls then had a full day of action Saturday at the Oakdale Tournament. They did not play Thursday; Riverbank does not field a freshman team.

Against RC, coach Morgan Jensen said Melanie Smith had two kills while Natalie Cortes had three assists and Camryn Rodenburg had nine digs. Suzy Palmerin and Smith had three aces each.

“We just weren’t mentally prepared for the game,” admitted Jensen. “We made a lot of errors the first game and we didn’t get back into rhythm until the middle of the second game.”

At the all-day Oakdale Tournament on Saturday, the girls got on the court against multiple opponents. Ultimately, said Jensen, they finished eighth out of 11 teams, taking fourth in the silver bracket.

“We started in a tough pool to begin with,” explained Jensen.

First, her team topped Summerville in three games, 17-25, 25-13, 15-9.

“Then we lost to Pitman, 15-25, 19-25, putting us in the Silver bracket,” Jensen said. “We then had a tough loss to Calaveras, 25-27, 23-25. We fought point for point but just couldn’t pull through.”

Ending the day against the team they started with, Summerville, this time the young Escalon girls fell by a 17-25, 23-25 decision.

“We played great, working together as a team and had some amazing plays,” Jensen said of the overall effort. “Melanie Smith led in aces on the day with 16, 12 of which were in our match against Calaveras. Julia Castillas led in kills with 19 on the day. Natalie Cortes led in assists with 21 on the day. Julia and Melanie both had two amazing blocks as well.”