By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Varsity Volleyball Squad Claims League Championship
serve murphy
Varsity volleyball player Mandy Murphy gets ready to send off the serve in earlier season action on the home court. She had another stellar effort in terms of digs, aces and kills in a key victory over Ripon on the road this past week. Marg Jackson/The Times

With a Tuesday, Oct. 19 game still on the schedule, the varsity Escalon Lady Cougars wrapped up the Trans-Valley League volleyball championship on Oct. 14.

They won both their games this past week, starting off with a thrilling three-set victory on the road at Ripon and then traveled to Livingston on Thursday for what turned out to be the game that secured the title.

“We played Ripon and it was an amazing match,” explained head coach Teresa Williamson.

Her Lady Cougars won in three: 33-31, 25-23, 25-14.

“The first set was a battle with a lot of passion and fight. My girls showed so much heart and determination for that win,” Williamson said.

Leaders were Rylie Lattig with 26 assists and eight digs; Mandy Murphy with 18 kills, seven digs and three aces; Emily Vickers with nine kills and three aces. Also, Grace Ferreira recorded 15 digs and Bella Cormack had three blocks.

“We played Livingston on Thursday, and won in three easily,” added Williamson. “With this win we clinched the TVL Championship.”

The team was slated to host Hughson in the regular season finale on Tuesday, Oct. 19 after The Times went to press. It was also Senior Night, with recognition for the senior players on the team.



Against Ripon on the road, the JV Lady Cougars fell in set one by a 23-25 final, but came back to take the next two, 25-18, 15-9 for a 2-1 Escalon victory.

“Sophia Martin had five kills, Makenzie Mendez was able to get two swings and one dig,” said coach Krystal Rodriguez. “Grace Spurgeon had consistency in middle back. She’s become our go to girl for whoever needs her in the back row.”

Also getting kudos were Karisa McNeil for her hard work setting up the hitters and getting nine assists. Lisa Murga also played a great net game, said Rodriguez, with five solo blocks. Macie Vickers had a number of digs.

“Next to beating Hilmar at their place, this win was just as sweet if not better,” the coach admitted. “The whole team wanted it and you could feel it after they lost their first set. Playing timid and afraid to make a mistake will get you nowhere. All it got us was a loss. After they got over their fears of making a mistake they turned into beasts and took their court and the win. So incredibly proud of them for coming together as a team.”

Back on the road for Thursday night action in Livingston, it was a straight sets win for Escalon, 25-10, 25-10.

Leaders were Claire Burkus with one solo block, Mendez worked hard on the right side and Natalie Titsworth had several digs.

“Kendra Gwartney had four aces as well as good defense,” noted Rodriguez. “Madison Smith got in one kill at right side and played some serve receive.”

The coach said though they took the win, it wasn’t as dominant a performance as their effort at Ripon.

“Livingston was away,” she pointed out. “It’s a long ride and those rides tend to drain the energy from them.”



It was a 25-22, 25-18 victory on the road for the youngest Lady Cougars at Ripon on Oct. 12, battling to the hard fought win.

“This week we were missing a big part of our team,” noted first year head coach Shay Beam. “My starting setter and hitter, Chloe (Fraser), was gone this week, but my girls were able to stay mentally tough and come out on top,” she explained. “Playing Ripon, of course I was nervous, but luckily my girls want to win almost as much as I do.”

The coach pointed to the effort of Mady Herrera as being key to the wins.

“She may not be super loud on the court yet but she leads with her actions in the back row and front row,” said Beam. “She had five digs and five kills against Ripon.”

Setter Cheyenne Ratkiewicz was able to shoulder the load in the absence of Fraser.

“We all just encouraged her as much as possible and she did a great job this week,” Beam said. “Cheyenne had 12 assists and three digs against Ripon. I am very happy to say my middles showed up to play this week; Alondra (Gonzalez) had six aces and six kills, Haley (Barker) had two kills and one block.”

The coach said she was especially pleased to see how well Ratkiewicz mixed up her sets and was also excited to see how much the players have all grown since they started together in June.

“I also want to point out my libero, Riley Ogilvie, was passing nails this week. She had eight digs against Ripon,” said Beam.