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TVL Champion Cougars Battle In Volleyball Season Finale
For the first time in months, Escalon's volleyball girls fell to an opponent on their home court.

And it signaled the end of their season.

The varsity volleyball squad hosted and lost to Ripon Christian in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

"We lost in four," said head coach Teresa Williamson. "It was a great game, the girls really played well.

"We just made some minor errors and really couldn't put it away."

The unforgiving Ripon Christian Lady Knights made Escalon pay for those minor errors, enough to close out the contest in four games.

RC roared out to a 2-0 lead before Escalon put one in the win column, but the visitors came back strong in game four to oust the top seeded Lady Cougars. Ripon Christian faced off with Bear River in the Section final on Thursday, with Bear River taking the title with a 3-1 victory.

Despite ending their campaign, Williamson said the team effort was still a solid one for her Cougars, all the way around.

"I thought Cassidy Caton and Nicole Bianchi played out of their minds," said the coach. "Cassidy was just amazing with her kills again and Nicole's digs were just amazing as well."

Scores in the Tuesday night semifinal match were 11-25, 21-25, 25-22, 22-25.

"Losing in round three last year, I think they really wanted it," Williamson said of getting to the Section final this year. "They just couldn't pull it out. Ripon Christian played very well and they're a great team."

Caton ended the night with 30 kills, four aces and 13 digs while Bianchi had 23 digs. Freshman Taylor Laugero made her presence felt with 43 assists, with three blocks each from seniors Adalia Cajias and Sam Shipley against a much taller RC squad.

"They had a lot of seniors on the court, a lot of experience out there and I think that's where the difference was," Williamson noted of Ripon Christian having an advantage.

Escalon has a crop of talented sophomores that will be coming up to join returning juniors at the varsity level next season and Laugero will return to the varsity line up as a sophomore, giving the team plenty of building blocks for likely another strong run.

Williamson also pointed to the solid effort of JV player Brooke Silva, brought up for the playoffs.

"In game four, we were down 16-24 with her serving," Williamson said, with Silva going on a run to pick up six straight points for her team to keep them close.

Williamson said her team did get out of the blocks a little more slowly than normal but battled back and showed a great deal of determination and character.

"Ripon Christian went up 2-0, we really were slow in game one, but came back and played well in game two," the coach explained. "Game three we played phenomenal. That's the first loss Ripon Christian had in their last 15 matches, they had beaten everybody 3-0."

Putting the blemish on the RC record was some solace and the team can also be proud of the fact, said Williamson, that they were undefeated Trans-Valley League champions and compiled an overall 25-6 record.

"Going in to the season, no, I didn't think we would reach that level, but seeing how the girls started coming together after preseason I thought we had a good chance," Williamson said of at least reaching a 20-win plateau. "They played very, very well.

"And there's always next year."