After getting the Trans-Valley League season off to a rough start, losing to Hilmar at home, Escalon’s varsity volleyball girls bounced back with a strong tournament effort.
They also took on Linden in non-league play and defeated the Lady Lions 25-14, 25-9, 22-25, 25-16. Hannah Boyd had 37 assists, Mandy Murphy had 17 kills and Sage Davis notched three blocks. Tess Cosby had 27 digs and Cosby, Murphy and Meadow Naraghi added three aces apiece in the victory.
Opening up the TVL schedule at home hosting Hilmar on Wednesday, Sept. 5, the match didn’t go as planned, and the Lady Cougars found themselves on the wrong end of the 3-0 final.
Though they battled tough, the Hilmar players often had a knack of putting the ball where the Lady Cougars weren’t, finding that one spot on the floor that wasn’t covered. Scores were 15-25, 19-25, 8-25
Boyd had 19 assists, Murphy notched nine kills, Melanie Smith had two blocks, Cosby had 12 digs in the contest.
“We played solid volleyball against Linden. We didn’t play to our potential in the Hilmar game, however Hilmar showed up to play. The girls never quit, they just didn’t play their game,” said coach Teresa Williamson. “After the loss to Hilmar, I was worried on how these girls would bounce back and play in the tournament. Well, they played amazing volleyball.”
The varsity squad played in the Central California Classic on Friday and Saturday, going 6-2 and taking fourth place honors in the Gold Division out of 32 teams.
They beat Los Banos 25-15, 25-12; Enochs 25-21, 25-10; Edison (Stockton) 25-10, 25-6; Le Grand 25-17, 25-20; Edison (Fresno) 25-21, 25-20, and Lodi High with losses coming to El Diamante 25-20, 22-25, 3-15 and Gregori 18-25, 18-25.
“We were short a player for a family wedding for the entire tournament, then we lost Mandy Murphy to an injury during the Lodi match on day two,” Williamson explained. “She was a trooper and finished the match and got the winning kill for our team. I made some changes to our lineup and I will tell you these girls stepped up … they sure gave it their all.”
Tournament leaders were Boyd with 97 assists, Murphy with 48 kills, Smith with 15 blocks, Naraghi with 13 aces and Cosby with 110 digs. Murphy was awarded All-Tournament honors.
On the road at Linden, an uncharacteristic effort saw the JV Lady Cougars take a 2-0 loss, 23-25, 19-25.
“So many unforced errors on our side and now we know we can’t just show up, we actually have to try. I try and warn the girls that they’re not the only ones who have improved but they have to see it for themselves,” coach Krystal Rodriguez said. “The longer I coach the more it becomes relevant that JV squads ride emotional rollercoasters filled with ups and downs, corkscrews and backwards flips. This team is learning that those rollercoasters can literally kill a team’s morale and spirit. That’s exactly what they let happen in Linden.”
Kalynn Cavanaugh had four kills, Liz Cortes, Mya Scott, Madi Faria and Kailey Costa all had one ace, while Kailey Costa and Koren Rodriguez each had nine digs.
Back on the home court Wednesday, the JV girls opened league action with a 2-1 win over Hilmar.
“This is my team. This is the team I wish showed up to play on Tuesday but it took playing Hilmar at home to wake them up,” Rodriguez said. “We played an amazing match and I’m very proud of the heart and hustle they put out there on their court. Compared to the night before we had less errors on our side and more earned points. Hilmar is always a tough team but because of that it’s extremely rewarding when we take the win.”
Scores were 25-18, 15-25, 15-12.
Team co-captain Koren Rodriguez said “With Hilmar we were more aggressive and communicated more on the court than we did during Linden. I hope we continue to play the way we did during Hilmar because that’s our team.”
Co-captain Mya Scott added, “I think it was the first time we really came together as a team and got excited for each other.”
Koren Rodriguez had six kills, Cesi Rodriguez added four.
“Madelyn Page served very well. I almost had her setting this year but thankfully I switched into back row defense because that’s exactly where her team needs her,” the coach noted. “Madi Faria had 10 assists and pushed the ball around to her hitters, mixing up our offense which helped throw off Hilmar’s defense. Kailey Costa had a perfect digging night with 18 digs and no errors. Adriana Lopez is improving at her hitting and getting better at right side.”
Escalon’s youngest Lady Cougars opened up TVL play with a victory over Hilmar on Sept. 5.
“We won in two with the first set score of 25-9 and the second set was 25-13,” said coach Nicole Bianchi. “Marissa Silva led the team with four total kills on the night with one block. Again, our serving was very strong, Isabella Jaime, Matty Bollen, and Haylee Barajas each had four aces.”
Bianchi added that while there were quite a few missed serves, she said she will take that, given the team is serving very aggressively and no one backs off at the service line.
“The team as a whole is much more consistent at the service line than they started out to be and I’m very proud of that,” Bianchi added. “In general, the team had great chemistry on the court, their communication on and off the court has improved so much, and taking the win against Hilmar as our league opener is a great feeling.”
Against Linden on Sept. 4, the girls got a 25-7, 25-14 win on the road, a night that featured 31 serves from Barajas with nine of them being aces.