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Sierra remains in hunt with five-game victory

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Weston Ranch outside hitter Julia Olaya smacks it over the blocks of visiting Sierra's Emily Doran (20) and Alysia Atkins during a Valley Oak League match with playoff implications Tuesday.


POSTED October 27, 2010 3:05 a.m.
WESTON RANCH — Weston Ranch countered Sierra High’s big comeback with one of its own.

In a match both teams needed to stay in the hunt for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff berth, both sides were amped up as it came down to the deciding fifth game.

Sierra recaptured control in Game 5 and avoided a disappointing letdown after claiming the first two stanzas. Game scores were: 26-24, 25-18, 23-25, 22-25, 15-10.

The host Cougars (5-7 Valley Oak League, 9-8 overall) were demoralized following the first game. Leading 24-15, Sierra answered with 11 straight points with Michelle Arroyo — who finished with 14 aces, 34 digs and six kills — on the service line. Reserve outside hitter Emily Doran keyed the late charge with a tip, a block and a kill.

“That was killer,” Sierra coach Trinity Johnson said. “To come back from down 24-16 was awesome. That was a huge momentum builder for the girls.”

Both teams are on the bubble for playoff spots. According to the midseason release of the section’s postseason power ratings, Weston Ranch is ranked No. 14 with Sierra (5-7, 13-8) at 22. The top 16 rated teams in each division qualify.

Sierra closes the regular season with first-year varsity Kimball and third-place East Union, while Weston Ranch next squares off with second-place Oakdale and Lathrop.

While a .500 finish in league does not guarantee a playoff berth, wrapping up the regular season with four straight wins is a realistic goal for Sierra to reach.

“It’s important that we finish strong. I think we still have a chance,” Johnson said.

Weston Ranch started the year 8-2 overall and appeared prime to make a run at the school’s first-ever volleyball playoff run.

“This was a very good opportunity for us,” said assistant coach Dwayne Kulm. “This was one we definitely wanted badly.”

And it showed.

Sierra was on its way to finishing off the Cougars much earlier with a sizable 17-10 lead in the third game. Later, Desiree Fonoti (4 kills) scored with a tip and Zelon Lane blasted a kill to tie it at 23 for Weston Ranch. Lane clinched the game with a big block.

Game 4 was the most competitive of the match, as no lead extended past four. DeArbia Gardner sent it to a fifth game with one of her seven kills.

Weston Ranch’s energy fizzled out in the fifth game, however. Sierra jumped ahead 9-3 following a massive spike from Alysia Atkins, who pounded out 11 kills to lead all players. She also had 39 digs and three blocks.

 “It took us two games to overcome (losing Game 1),” Kulm said. “Once we started to get that chemistry right it just went away. It was not quite enough at the end.”

Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 1
The Timberwolves (6-6) won their third consecutive match in dramatic fashion — 26-28, 25-18, 16-14.

Leading the charge was Iyana Hughes with nine kills and two blocks. Valerie Nestor (3 blocks) and Stevie Leeman added four blocks apiece.

Big contributors from the service line were: Sommer Wilson (11 points, 3 aces), Alexis Davis (6 points, 3 aces) and Sarah Gullett (10 points, ace).

Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 0
Sierra (6-6) dominated with defense and passing to upend the Cougars in two (25-19, 25-11).

Gianna Lenoci, Kristyn DeBrouwer, Ashley Honeycutt and Faby Lopez anchored the Timberwolves’ back row. Setter Kayla Honeycutt led the offense, while Claudia Hunter and Allison Walljasper provided effective serving.
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