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Manteca conquers crosstown rival after hard-fought start

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Gianna Lenoci of Sierra tries to tip the ball over the block of Manteca’s Julia Martinez.


POSTED September 25, 2012 1:17 a.m.

Manteca High’s volleyball team had to grind it out to take Game 1 from host Sierra on Monday.

By the third, the Buffaloes were in cruise control.

With one of its strongest all-around efforts of the season, Manteca swept its crosstown rival — 25-22, 25-18, 25-10 — to even its Valley Oak League record to 2-2.

Sierra (1-5 overall), meanwhile, remains winless but put together its best effort in conference play.

“I thought we were pretty evenly matched — the third score didn’t really show that,” Sierra coach Trinity Johnson said. “We just couldn’t finish tonight.”

The Timberwolves had their chances to change the complexion of the match early. In the opening set they led 19-16 until three straight unforced errors tied it.

Manteca (5-4 overall) made the clutch plays when it needed them and set the tone from the service line. Nicole Magnuson tallied one of her match-high six aces near the end of the first game, and Ashley Gase clinched it with one of her own.

“I don’t think she was one and done at all,” Manteca coach Tim Horning said of Magnuson’s effective serving. “She got some points for us, big time.”

She came through again at the end of the second set, which the Buffaloes took control of early for a 15-7 advantage. Sierra battled back to get as close as 15-17 thanks to back-to-back big plays at the net from Tayler Webber.

Magnusson served the final four points of the game, including two aces and a thudding kill from McKenna Balmut, who was set up nicely by Gase (13 assists, nine digs).

Horning liked what he was seeing out of his club by that point, from passing to attacking. Manteca middle blocker Julia Martinez led all players with seven kills. Balmut added four kills, while Abigail Behler and Kijana Nicols had two blocks each.

Magnusson also paced the Buffs with 10 digs.

“We were slow moving in general (in Game 1),” he said. “We had six or seven hitting errors in the first game, but I don’t think we had five in the next two sets. I told them we had to be aggressive but to keep the ball in. They were taking it easy and they started warming up and got more comfortable.”

The Buffaloes couldn’t have gotten any more comfortable in the third set, as they sat on a 13-1 cushion at one point. Gase served the first six points of the set, Balmut accounted for another six in succession. Sierra’s Valerie Nestor tried to stop the bleeding with the match’s most emphatic kill, but the Timberwolves could not overcome their early miscues and Manteca’s growing confidence.

Manteca will need to be on top of its game Thursday when defending champion Sonora visits, while Sierra hosts Weston Ranch on Wednesday.

“We found some things that we need to work on,” Johnson said. “We have two days of practice before we have Weston Ranch, so hopefully can improve and we look forward to seeing Manteca next time.”


Manteca 2, Sierra 0

Danielle Parham came up with eight blocks, but it wasn’t enough in Sierra’s two-set defeat (21-25, 15-25). Madison English and Tayler Moss led the defense with five and four digs, respectively.


Manteca 2, Sierra 0

Sierra lost two competitive sets by 23-25 scores.

Brianna Padua turned in three digs, two kills and an ace for the T’Wolves. Jenny Anderson contributed two solo blocks, two kills, an ace and an assist.

Julie Denada posted three kills and four aces.

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