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TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Manteca comes up short against Weston Ranch

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TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Cougars standout Melanie Amen sends a tip over the net for a point Wednesday in Valley Oak League action.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED October 11, 2012 12:12 a.m.

After seeming less than interested in winning Wednesday’s Valley Oak League matchup with Weston Ranch, the Manteca Buffaloes started playing. Only it was a little, too late for the Buffaloes, falling to the Cougars in five, 25-19, 25-18, 20-25, 14-25 and 15-13.

Weston Ranch came out impressive, building comfortable leads in the first two games and taking them both without hindrance. The third game provided a different picture. The Cougars still seemed primed for the VOL sweep, jumping out to the customary 6-2 lead, only this cushion wouldn’t last.

Manteca was able to find an answer, scoring 21 of the next 30 points to snatch game 3 and extend that momentum into the pivotal fourth game. That is where Manteca’s luck would end.

“We came out in that first game and I mentioned to them that it seemed like they were all looking at each other to do something,” Manteca head coach Tim Horning said. “They just weren’t gelling in that first game and things started getting a little better in the second game, but it was still more of the same.

“Just not being aggressive.”

The Cougars rode the dominant play of Candisse Griffin to the victory, getting ever-so-important kills from Griffin in each of Weston Ranch’s three wins. Griffin turned in a game-high 15 kills, and her and her Cougar teammates needed each one of them.

Manteca standout Julia Martinez made an impact late, finishing with 13 kills, including three in the final game where the last kill pulled the Buffaloes even with Weston Ranch 13-13. The Cougars would not give up the win though, posting the final two points in order for the win.

“We’ve been struggling with closing out a game,” Cougars head coach Chris Bauer said. “Mentally being able to be there and close it and focus on it. 

“We did that today in game five.”

The Cougars (4-6, 5-6 overall) were led by Aoloni Etu’s 32 assists and five aces and seven digs from Audreanna Bigornia. Vanessa Contreras chipped in with nine kills. Ashley Gase led Manteca with 25 assists, while teammates Beth Aschenbrenner and McKenna Balmut both recorded seven digs.

Manteca head coach Horning praised the play of junior middle-hitter Kijana Nicols. Nicols had seven kills and a team-high five blocks in the loss.

“We worked really hard,” Manteca High’s Abigail Behler said. “We had the intensity and we were able to bring ourselves back into it. The final game we were so excited because we had won the two straight that we thought we could do it.

“We had too much energy and couldn’t calm our passes down.”

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