A home match against Oakdale in non-league play and the Golden Valley tournament kept the Lady Cougar varsity volleyball squad busy this past week.
Hosting Oakdale on Sept. 5, it was a 3-0 sweep for Escalon, 25-22, 25-21, 25-17.
Tess Cosby notched 19 digs on the night with 26 assists from Hannah Boyd, four aces and 20 kills from Mandy Murphy.
“We were down three players, Melanie Smith and Sage Davis with injuries and Elise Gonzales still out for CIF sit out period,” explained head coach Teresa Williamson. “Hannah Boyd did an amazing job moving her set around. Mya Scott and Mallory Berhorst did a fabulous job in the middle, with Mandy Murphy, Emily Vickers and Mya Beary working the offense. Tess Cosby, Katie Karp and Koren Rodriguez dominated the back row.”
Williamson said those watching from the stands wouldn’t have known the team was missing a couple of major contributors.
“It was an amazing match. I knew we were down key players, however, it didn’t show on our court. These girls stepped up and beat a very talented team,” the coach said. “It was so fun to watch them.”
In the Golden Valley Tournament, playing games both Friday and Saturday, the squad put together an overall 4-3 mark.
Friday they fell to Merced, 16-25, 20-25 and Clovis, 12-25, 18-25 before coming back to take a 25-8, 25-13 win over Fresno.
Saturday started off with a 25-10, 25-9 win over Los Banos and then the team crafted a 25-19, 25-15 victory over Le Grand. They ran into a tough Enochs squad and fell 15-25, 25-17, 13-15. But they regrouped to end the tournament on a winning note with a satisfying 25-12, 25-15 win against Golden Valley.
Leaders for the tournament were: Hannah Boyd 106 assists; Tess Cosby 92 digs and five aces; Mandy Murphy 48 kills, eight aces, 37 digs; Koren Rodriguez 28 digs; Mya Beary 28 kills, six aces; Emily Vickers 54 kills, 16 aces, 42 digs.
“We struggled on Friday, went 1-2, the girls just didn’t have it,” Williamson said of the slow start. “They bounced back and played much better Saturday.”
The coach also noted that with a player needing to leave early, she had to do some more juggling, moving players around on the court.
“I had to adjust my lineup again and these girls stepped up,” she explained. “Koren Rodriguez had to play right side and she never questioned my request. She trusted my changes. She did a great job.”
It was a win in three for the JV girls over visiting Oakdale on Thursday, coming back from a first game loss to win it, 2-1.
“That was one of their best games yet,” coach Krystal Rodriguez said, noting that had the team made fewer errors they might have taken the match in two.
“I tell them make the errors you need to now and learn from them before league,” the coach added. “The team worked hard for the win on and off the court, all 12, I’m very proud of their effort.”
The contest also came after some scary moments for the coach, whose car was struck by another when she was on the way to the game. Though shaken up, she made it to the school and moved ahead with coaching the team, not mentioning the accident until after all the competition was complete.
“It was a good life lesson to teach the girls,” explained Rodriguez. “When you enter those doors whatever has happened in your day can wait. Put it behind you and leave it there at the door. That way you can fully focus on what’s most important. Your team. We all go through things in life but it’s up to us to handle it and not let it affect us so much to where it affects everyone around us. I left my accident at the door and didn’t think once about it while we played.”
Saturday was the Oakdale Tournament where the JV girls played all day long.
“We ended our day in silver bracket and I’m proud of the plays they accomplished,” Rodriguez said. “We’re learning the difference between out of system and in system as well as when it’s smart to run certain plays. They’re ready for league, however there’s always room for improvement.”
The freshmen, JV and varsity girls traveled to Hilmar for Trans-Valley League play on Wednesday, Sept. 11 and then will be home to host Modesto Christian on Monday, Sept. 16 with JV and varsity action. They host Riverbank on Wednesday, Sept. 18 with all three levels scheduled to play.