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Varsity Volleyball Nets Two League Wins
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The week started out a bit rough for Escalon's varsity volleyball team at Livingston, but the girls rebounded to win both contests in Trans-Valley League play, topping both Livingston and Hughson.

"We were tied at 10-all in the first game," coach Rusty Fachner said of meeting up with Livingston on Tuesday, Oct. 19. "We took a timeout, had a talk, then we outscored them 15-2 to close it out."

After taking the first game by a 25-12 decision, Escalon rolled through the Wolves in the next two, 25-10, 25-5, to win the match 3-0.

"In the second game, we played better and in the third game, we played very well," said Fachner. "We had good serving and it was a great opportunity for a lot of players to play."

Laken Naraghi and Emily Alves were singled out for strong efforts against Livingston, getting some valuable court time for the Lady Cougars.

"Emily McCants also played solidly and Kacey Ball did a bang up job in the middle, plus we got great efforts out of our setters and Michelle Williams did a nice job, she stepped back in and did some real good things."

Setter Steph Williamson had 11 assists to lead the girls in the win, while Chelsea Fachner kept up her torrid pace and notched 10 kills.

Thursday, the girls were again on the road and this time took a 3-0 win at Hughson.

"It's always a challenge at Hughson," said Fachner, noting that his team responded well.

The girls won a tight contest, 25-21, 26-24, 25-23.

"They see purple and gold at Hughson and they play at a whole new level," Fachner said of the league match. "We struggled a bit at times but we have really good resolve."

Down 9-2 at one point in game two, the Lady Cougars gathered themselves and battled back.

"We have to be patient," said Fachner. "We have to make the other team make mistakes."

Williams made some good passes at the end to help seal the win, Fachner said, while the girls stayed steady and came up with big points as a team when necessary.

Chelsea Fachner was credited with 16 kills on the night, Ashley Brown and Jenna Martin each had 14 digs. Williamson added 17 assists and Fachner had four aces and two blocks to go along with her kills.

"Kacey Ball was terrific again and Emily McCants made some big plays in the middle, she answered the call," Fachner said. "Brittany Rigg came in off the bench to get three or four kills, that was her best match of the year."

Fachner also praised the continued solid work of his setters, Williamson and Michele Barajas.

"Stephanie Williamson hit the ball well, she made some terrific sets and the same with Michele," the coach noted. "They made our passing look a lot better and Barajas played great defense."

Williamson, meanwhile, was crucial in the game two win when the game was tied at 24-24.

"She took a big swing and you could tell by the look in her eyes that she was thinking 'I'm putting this thing away'," explained Fachner. "Setter is such a tough position, they only get noticed if they do something wrong."

Escalon's setters operate under the radar, though, giving their teammates an opportunity to hit the ball.

This week, the varsity girls will be at home for their final home match of the season, hosting Ripon Christian on Senior Night. The Thursday night contest, Oct. 28, will be at 6:30 p.m. with recognition first given to the outgoing seniors. They will close out the regular season on the road, at Riverbank on Tuesday, Nov. 2 and then Ripon on Wednesday, Nov. 3. The Ripon game has been moved up a day from its previously scheduled Nov. 4 date to accommodate the power ratings timetable.

"We're number four in the power ratings right now," said Fachner.

Those power ratings help determine seedings for the upcoming playoffs.

Escalon improved to 9-1 in league play with the wins over Livingston and Patterson.