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T’WOLVES BACK ON TRACK

Sierra sweats out win to snap 3-match slide

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T’WOLVES BACK ON TRACK

Lathrop High's Krystal Ruiz slaps it over the block of Sierra's Alysia Atkins in Valley Oak League action Thursday.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED September 24, 2010 3:04 a.m.
Lathrop High proved again Thursday at Sierra that it should not be looked past this year — its first with a senior class — in the Valley Oak League.

 “I think we underestimated them,” Sierra High senior Alysia Atkins said after the Timberwolves sweated out a four-game victory. “Once we noticed that they had some hitters we started to pick it up and played our game.”

Never mind the 25-10 score in the match-clinching fourth game. The Spartans (0-3, 3-4 overall) gave Sierra (1-2, 5-3), which snapped out of a three-match losing streak, all that it could handle going into it.

Sierra was stunned at the outset, losing the first game 12-25 before squeaking out the next two, 25-22 and 28-26.

On Tuesday, first-place East Union held off a late Spartan charge to win in four games.

“It’s a huge confidence booster for the girls out there on the court,” said first-year Lathrop coach Nicole Unrein. “They worked hard and fought it for the entire match. I’m super proud of them for that.

“Toward the end they were starting to get tired, but Sierra has always been a competitor in this league.”

Lathrop took advantage of Sierra’s 10 hitting errors in the first game, but the Spartans weren’t handed all of their points.

One of the match’s most intense rallies was punctuated by a demonstrative kill from Cecilia Lopez, who stretched Lathrop’s early Game-1 lead to 13-6. Sierra called a timeout, but things only got worse for the home team.

Later, Blessie Caro recorded an ace, and Lopez drilled another kill to make it 24-12. A hitting miscue capped the first game. Lopez finished with seven kills and 12 digs.

Lathrop battled back from late deficits in the second and third games. Sierra was ahead 19-15 in the second game, and just like that it was 20-all. Sophomore Gabby Olmo ended it for Sierra with one of her three aces.

And Sierra just about had the third game in the bag with a 20-13 cushion, but the pesky Spartans again would not go away, going on a 13-6 run to tie it at 26 with Grahzel Estrada’s spike. The Timberwolves clinched the final point with an errant hit from Lathrop’s back row.

It was all Sierra in the fourth game. Atkins slammed home two early kills and swatted another late for a 19-9 Sierra lead. She led all players with 11 kills and two blocks.

“It was two different teams,” Sierra coach Trinity Johnson said while comparing her squad’s effort in the first game with the last. “(Atkins) really stepped it up, and we showed that we were capable of playing at that caliber.

“It was like a whole new team. That’s how we played in the preseason and it seems like we’re finally coming back around.”

Chelsea Bereta contributed 17 digs, three kills and five aces for Sierra. Other top performers for Lathrop were Britney Rallios (24 digs), Erica Sanchez (four kills) and Janel Butler (21 assists).

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