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Varsity Volleyball Girls Split Matches
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The big Escalon-Ripon volleyball match did not go the Lady Cougars' way on Tuesday but they bounced back to take a win against Hilmar on Thursday, salvaging a 1-1 week in Trans-Valley League play.

"You can try and rationalize it all you want to, but basically they were better than we were that night," coach Rusty Fachner said of the 3-1 win for Ripon.

The teams went in both undefeated in Trans-Valley League play, only Ripon came out with an unblemished record.

"We played great defense but we made a lot of mistakes, mental and physical," said Fachner. "I have to give credit to Ripon."

The visiting Lady Indians battled against a loud crowd in the Cougar gym and took the first two games, 25-14, 25-21, with Escalon coming back for a 25-17 win in game three that gave them new life. Ripon, however, calmly took the fourth and deciding game by a 25-16 decision.

"I would never fault my kids for their effort," Fachner said, noting that they didn't leave anything on the court. "As a coach, I'm still trying to search for answers about how to get the kids ready to play."

Escalon had trouble passing the ball effectively in the contest and their defense was not up to its usual level, giving Ripon just enough room to come in and take the win.

"Hopefully we can get through the rest of the league unscathed," said Fachner. "We get them back at their place and we're hoping to return the favor."

The league schedule has the teams meeting in the regular season finale at Ripon.

If Escalon continues to handle the rest of the TVL - just like Ripon is doing - they will have the chance to tie for the title in the finale at Ripon. But Fachner said they have to get that far first.

"One of the toughest things is to come off a situation where you've been beaten up psychologically and physically and play well," Fachner said.

Escalon hosted Hilmar on Thursday and took the match in three games, 25-20, 28-26, 25-14.

"Hilmar is a very good volleyball team," noted Fachner. "I thought we showed a lot of grit Thursday night, we hung in there, it wasn't easy for us, it was difficult to bounce back."

In the second game, Escalon fell behind 17-22 before battling back for the 28-26 win.

"If we don't win that second game, I hate to think what would happen," the coach admitted. "But we took the wind out of their sails in the third game."

Fachner said his team did come out slowly on Thursday, still suffering the emotional hangover from the Tuesday loss.

"I wasn't sure what we would get on Thursday but we played hard," he said.

Strong efforts in the Tuesday loss to Ripon came from Chelsea Fachner, Michele Barajas and Kacey Ball.

"Kacey has come on and been steady as a rock for us, she is doing all sorts of little things to help," explained Fachner. "Stephanie Williamson bounced back from a rough night vs. Ripon to play well for us against Hilmar, Laken Naraghi stepped in to a starter's role and passed wonderfully, Jenna Martin did a terrific job passing the ball and was effective and Emily McCants was huge in the first couple of games, of her first eight swings, six were kills."

Sandi French got high marks for her work on the right side and the Lady Cougars improved to 7-1 with the win over Hilmar.

"Each person had their job to do and they did it," Fachner said.

The girls are on the road this week, playing at Hughson on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m.