On a night where their seven seniors were recognized for contributions to the volleyball program throughout their high school years, the varsity Lady Cougars completed a perfect Trans-Valley League season.
They defeated visiting Hughson in a 3-0 sweep, ending the regular season as undefeated 10-0 TVL champions.
“We only had one match this week, against Hughson and we took them in three,” head coach Teresa Williamson said of the 25-10; 25-10; 25-13 final.
Seniors honored prior to the game were, by jersey number: libero Grace Ferreira; middle hitter/opposite Leah Wheeler; defensive specialist Emily Middleton; middle hitter/opposite Valeria Gonzalez; outside hitter Amanda (Mandy) Murphy; defensive specialist/setter Haylee Barajas; middle and outside hitter/opposite Bella Cormack.
Stats leaders for the win over Hughson were: Rylie Lattig 15 assists, one block, three aces and three digs; Mandy Murphy 14 kills, 11 digs, one ace; Bella Cormack six kills, two blocks, three digs. Also, Grace Ferreira 12 digs and three aces; Valeria Gonzalez two blocks; and Haylee Barajas and Emily Middleton both with eight digs.
Following the win, the varsity girls – with just two losses all season – began preparing for the playoffs. They won their first round game on Tuesday, Oct. 26, defeating Marysville 3-0. Escalon entered the playoffs as the top seed in Division 4. Quarterfinals are scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. when Escalon will host No. 8 seed Dixon. Winner of that match moves on to the semifinals on Nov. 2. The Section championship game is on Saturday, Nov. 6.
In her coaching finale – longtime JV coach Krystal Rodriguez plans to step down after this season – her JV girls made sure she got a win, as they topped Hughson 25-11 and 25-12.
“Karisa McNeil had five digs and had seven assists, while Macie Vickers had two assists and a back row kill with solid serve receive passing as well,” said Rodriguez. “Lisa Murga had four aces out of 13 attempts. Sophia Martin and Claire Barkus both share top kills with having three each.”
The contest also saw solid serving out of Natalie Titsworth and all around consistency from Kendra Gwartney and Grace Spurgeon.
“Madison Smith got in a nice kill from right side and Makenzie Mendez played her heart out. Each one of these girls have so much respect for one another and it shows in their chemistry on and off the court,” Rodriguez added.
It was a match the JV girls needed to win to solidify a share of the TVL title.
“Even though we ended up splitting that title, it was a title that was well deserved. My team worked hard the entire season, dedicating themselves to the team, the game, the program and me. The pride and the love they have for me I will never forget.”
For the coach, getting a piece of the league championship was also a satisfying way to end her time courtside.
“From our girl talks to the times I had to scream at them to work, this team will always hold a special place in my heart. They are the most humble team I may have ever had,” she said. “The passion, drive and heart they all have and the desire to do the best they can is so inspiring and made me want to do better as a coach and adult. Their energy is magnetic and as long as they continue to play their game they’re going to be unstoppable next season. I couldn’t have asked for a better season, team or year to end my career with.”
Starting off the evening with a win, the freshmen took down Hughson in two, 25-12, 25-11.
“Serving has been what sets this group apart and even though we missed more serves than normal, Mady Herrera clinched six aces and Riley Ogilvie had four,” noted head coach Shay Beam. “We had a good game offensively as Mady had five kills and Chloe Fraser and Alondra Gonzalez had two apiece.”
The coach said she has been telling the girls for the last few weeks to focus on doing their job while also trusting their teammates and playing had.
“They’ve given me just that and that’s what any coach would want,” Beam explained. “This group of ten girls went 26-1 this season, are co-TVL champions and took first in both tournaments they attended.”
Beam took on the head coach role in June, starting to work with the frosh girls as they entered high school.
“I am amazed at how far they have come and how they have progressed since then,” she said. “It has been a pleasure to be a part of these girls’ volleyball careers and I can’t wait to watch them grow, not only as players, but as people.”