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Varsity Volleyball Girls Rounding Into Top Form
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Capturing the first place plaque over the weekend, the Escalon varsity Lady Cougars were Gold Division champions at the Orestimba Volleyball Tournament. Photo Contributed

A first place showing on the road in Newman, coming after a couple of solid scrimmage appearances, has the Lady Cougars hungry for more competition on the volleyball court.

The varsity girls played in the 10th Annual Dig-In Varsity Volleyball Tournament at Orestimba High School in Newman on Saturday, Aug. 20.

“It was a fantastic day; we took first place,” head coach Teresa Williamson said. These girls played amazing volleyball the entire day. The level of play that we faced was a wide range, however, our level was consistent no matter who we played.”

Earlier scrimmages included the Pleasant Grove scrimmage in Elk Grove, on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

“Teams were Escalon, Folsom, Pleasant Grove, and Rodriguez.  We faced some D1 Schools and the girls stepped up and played really well,” Williamson said. “I was impressed with the hustle and fight these girls gave. When we play at scrimmages, we don’t keep score, however, my parents do … and we won every single set.”

The team kicked off the season with the Saturday, Aug. 13 traditional GEBO – Golden Valley, Escalon, Beyer, Oakdale – scrimmage hosted by Golden Valley in Merced.

“We faced Golden Valley and Beyer first, played well. Then we faced Oakdale, toughest competition,” noted Williamson. “The girls stepped up and played with lots of intensity and teamwork. This team already has some great chemistry and they were a joy to watch.”

While it was a varsity only at the Orestimba Tournament, all three levels took part in the scrimmages and did well overall.

Williamson said her varsity team is eager for the season and the chance to defend their league and section titles.

“Gianna Bava, Mallory Berhorst, Faye Hernandez, Carsyn Hood, Rylie Lattig, and Emily Vickers, are my six returning seniors. These girls have great leadership and are eager to play,” she said. “Kendra Gwartney, Macie Vickers, Sophia Martin and Madison Smith are my incoming juniors, and I pulled up Lisa Murga and Claire Barkus from the JV team. I have high expectations for these ladies. Ripon and Hilmar will be our toughest competition. We are working hard to perfect some things to hopefully earn another TVL title.”

Leading varsity stats for the season so far, following the Orestimba Tournament, are: Assists: Rylie Lattig with 102; Kills: Emily Vickers 42, Gianna Bava 22, Claire Barkus, Sophia Martin, Carsyn Hood all with 11 kills each, Lisa Murga and Mallory Berhorst each with eight; Aces: Rylie Lattig 15, Mallory Berhorst 11, Macie Vickers nine, and Emily Vickers seven; Digs: Faye Hernandez and Kendra Gwartney with 24, Rylie Lattig 23, Emily Vickers 20, and Macie Vickers 14, Blocks: Claire Barkus, Lisa Murga, eight each, Mallory Berhorst and Emily Vickers six each, Gianna Bava five, and Carsyn Hood and Sophia Martin with three each.

“Rylie Lattig is doing an amazing job spreading the offense around. She keeps our opponent blockers on their toes. Emily Vickers, Gianna Bava, Carsyn Hood, and Sophia Martin are strong pin offensive players,” Williamson said. “Mallory Berhorst, Lisa Murga, and Claire Barkus are strong blockers and are shutting down the opponents’ offense. With our defense in the back row, Faye Hernandez, Macie Vickers, Kendra Gwartney, nothing hits the floor.”

All three levels of volleyball will be in action this week; the Lady Cougars are scheduled to host Manteca on Thursday, Aug. 25 with the freshmen at 5 p.m., JV and 6 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.

The JV team will travel to the Orestimba Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 27.