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Strong Start To League Season For Netters
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One tough match and one easy victory added up to twin wins on the volleyball court this week for Escalon's varsity lady Cougars.

Tuesday, the girls were on the road at Hilmar and came away with a hard fought win, 25-21, 25-18, 13-25, 25-18.

"We beat them in four, we played very well in the first two games, the third game we had kind of a letdown," explained coach Rusty Fachner. "Then we bounced back and played well in the fourth."

Noting that Hilmar plays a solid brand of volleyball, with big, strong players, Fachner said he is glad they had to go on the road early in the season to face the Yellowjackets.

"I don't want to play them there late in the season because they are only going to get better," he said.

Chelsea Fachner continued her dominance on the court in the win, leading the varsity with 13 kills, 16 digs and three blocks.

"She just seems to keep doing it, match after match," said Fachner of his senior middle blocker. "She has become our leader."

Megan Warren also got praise for her efforts and, according to the coach, keeps improving every time she takes the court.

"One person who was really big for us, Laken Naraghi subbed in early, she made two or three great passes and really settled us down," Fachner explained. "For the complexion of the entire match, that was huge."

Ashley Brown and Jenna Martin were defensive standouts and outside hitters Kacey Ball and Emily McCants also turned in solid efforts on the court.

"They are starting to understand what they need to do to get the kills," Fachner said of the hitters.

Home on Thursday for another league match, this one with Livingston, it was all Escalon, sweeping the visitors in three games, 3-0.

"We overwhelmed Livingston," admitted Fachner. "They're not a very strong program."

To his team's credit, he said, the Lady Cougars didn't let down at all while facing a less formidable opponent.

"We continued to play at a high level, we didn't play sloppy ball," he said. "Emily McCants was terrific against Livingston, she swung very well."

For the match, Chelsea Fachner came away with 10 kills, two blocks and a half dozen digs.

"We lean on her because she is the leader," Fachner said. "She is the strength of the team right now and she has accepted that role, makes the big play and I'm proud of her."

Continued strong play out of setters Steph Williamson and Michele Barajas has also been key to the early success of the Lady Cougars.

"These guys, match in and match out, they bust their tail," Fachner said. "They're sort of the unsung heroes but that middle person, that setter, they really are making the difference in the matches. A lot of times, they are taking passes that aren't very good and turning them into something special."

Also turning in a solid performance against Livingston was Brittany Rigg, who came in and "hit the ball a ton," said Fachner, while Allee Merseth came off the bench to contribute valuable play.

"Another person I am very pleased with is Sandi French, she is playing within herself, she found her confidence level and found a way to be successful," Fachner said.

The girls will face Central Catholic in non-league action on Wednesday, Sept. 22, hosting the contest.