Taking the court on Thursday night, the Escalon Lady Cougars put away Ripon in straight sets in volleyball, sweeping to a Trans-Valley League victory.
The Escalon-Ripon rivalry was very much in evidence, with loud student cheering sections on opposite sides of the EHS gym keeping up the energy level throughout the Sept. 16 contest.
For the volleyball girls, their focus was on the court and getting the job done.
Scores were 25-23, 25-22, 25-15. Games one and two were back and forth battles, with Escalon pulling away at the end; the third and deciding contest saw the Lady Cougars take charge early and never really let Ripon get settled in to a groove.
“It was a great win,” said head coach Teresa Williamson. “The girls played amazing.”
Emily Vickers once again had an all-around solid game, notching five aces and nine kills; Amanda Murphy had 14 kills, three blocks and 12 digs.
Bella Cormack recorded four blocks, Rylie Lattig had 20 assists and Grace Ferreira had 12 digs.
“It was so fun,” Emily Vickers summed up of the match and the atmosphere in the packed gym. “It always is when we play Ripon.”
The senior added that they had played Ripon before, in preseason tournament action, but facing off against them in Trans-Valley League play adds another level of competition.
“It feels good,” she said of the win, noting that the Lady Cougar varsity was definitely working for the sweep. “We have a very solid team this year.”
Senior Grace Ferreira, serving as the team’s libero, agreed that the varsity girls wanted to win in a sweep.
“We definitely hoped for it but we didn’t want to expect it,” she said of staying focused on each game in and of itself. “We just needed to play as hard as we could.”
Ferreira has been an integral part of the success on the court for the varsity girls so far this season, added coach Williamson.
“Grace is a true team player and a very hard worker,” Williamson said. “She is the leader of our defense and has an amazing serve.”
This week, the girls were slated to play road games at Riverbank and Hughson, with a home match in between against Livingston.
Going to three sets against visiting Ripon, the JV girls took the lone loss of the night. They fell 21-25 in the opener, then came roaring back to post a 25-11 decision in the second. The third and deciding set saw the JV team on the short end, 12-15, to the visitors.
“Ripon is always fun and good competition, one of our best,” said coach Krystal Rodriguez. “It was a tough loss for my team but one that we are going to learn from.”
Sophia Martin had seven kills and Kendra Gwartney had six.
“Lisa Murga had six aces and a great service run,” added Rodriguez. “Macie Vickers and Sophia Martin both had a great night in the back row and leading their team.”
The coach said looking at the scores, it is definitely a match that the home team could have won. They recovered from a rocky start and played strong in the middle, but “couldn’t get it together soon enough” to take both sets two and three.
“When they stay focused and determined they’re unstoppable,” Rodriguez explained.
And even though they were on the wrong end of the score in two of the three sets, the coach said the battle helped galvanize the young squad.
“That gives these girls hope and a bigger purpose to get better and stronger,” said Rodriguez, adding that they bring a passion to the game that makes it fun and exciting to watch.
With a 2-0 win over Ripon on Sept. 16, the youngest volleyball girls outscored their opponent 28-26, 25-14.
“In freshman volleyball, I try to put a lot of emphasis on serving and serve receive,” explained head coach Shay Beam. “Riley Ogilvie had six aces and five digs. Cheyenne Ratkiewicz had seven aces and three assists.”
Other top stats for the match were recorded by Chloe Fraser, five assists and six kills; Madyson Herrera, four kills; Natalie Giuntoli, seven digs.
Saturday, the freshmen competed in the Stockton Classic Tournament.
“We were the site champions at Edison High and beat Folsom in the final match,” said Beam.