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Cougars ride Game-3 comeback to win

Weston Ranch improves to 3-0 against district rivals

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Cougars ride Game-3 comeback to win

Weston Ranch outside hitter Julia Olaya tips it over the net as Sierra's Gabby Olmo tries to get a piece of it.


POSTED October 1, 2010 2:56 a.m.
Weston Ranch mounted spirited comebacks in the first three games, but when intra-district host Sierra High attempted its own in the fourth the Cougars calmly put the finishing touches in their thrilling victory — 25-23, 24-26, 26-24, 25-19.

After leading by as much as eight, 14-6, Weston Ranch gave up eight of the next nine points to let Sierra close the deficit to one.
But thanks to some timely hits and tips from DeArbia Gardner and Desiree Fonoti, Weston Ranch escaped triumphant to remain a match back of Valley Oak League-leading Oakdale and Sonora.

Gardner, who led all players with seven kills, was confident the match was all but wrapped up with Fonoti on the service line and Weston Ranch ahead 22-19 in the fourth game.

Fonoti ended the match with three straight aces, finishing with six overall.

“At practice our coaches make us work on pressure serving, so we just treat these (situations) like they’re practice,” Gardner said.
The third game was the difference.

Sierra (2-3, 7-4 overall) held game point, 24-19, but Julia Olaya crushed a kill to keep Weston Ranch in it. Four unforced errors later, including a rotation violation on Sierra’s end, the game was tied at 24.  

Gardner pounded one of her match-high seven kills to lift the Cougars ahead, and Sierra was unable to return the ensuing serve to end it.

The wild comeback clearly took something out of Sierra, as Weston Ranch never trailed in the fourth game.

“That’s what we’ve been working on all season, is just staying with it and finishing,” Weston Ranch coach Carey Simoni said. “Learning how to win and how to finish what we started has been our focus.

Weston Ranch (4-1, 8-2) is off to its best start in school history while beating all three Manteca schools in the process. The Cougars complete the first half of VOL play next week with Oakdale and Lathrop, the last of their Manteca Unified rivals.

The Cougars set the tone early Thursday, clawing back from a 15-20 deficit to steal the first game. And despite coming up short in the second, Weston Ranch gave Sierra reason to worry after climbing out of a 9-20 hole and tying it at 24 with an ace from Fonoti.

The momentum shifted for good when Weston Ranch completed the comeback in Game 3.

“I think it was a whole team effort — from the bench staying intense and ready to go to the players on the court really coming together,” Simoni said.

Sidney Carter keyed the victory with four blocks, while setter Sobyn Sison dished out 10 assists. Sarah Konecny (four kills, 36 digs), Gabby Olmo (three blocks), Chelsea Bereta (30 digs, four aces) and Alysia Atkins (seven aces) were Sierra’s leading contributors.

W. Ranch 2, Sierra 0
Sierra couldn’t recover from a tightly-contested Game-1 loss, ultimately falling, 23-25, 15-25.

Iyana Hughes, Stevie Leeman and Valerie Nestor each had three kills for the Timberwolves. Sommer Wilson recorded eight digs and 10 service points, Katelynn Perkins turned in three aces and Elena Flores picked up four digs.

Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 1
Allison Walljasper highlighted the three-game marathon with 10 aces for Sierra. Kristyn DeBrouwer and Gianna Lenoci led the defense, while Claudia Hunter and Kayla Honeycutt anchored the front row.
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