Pinpoint serving by Tawny Deerinck and Kaitlyn Morenzone helped propel Manteca to a 25-17, 25-17, 25-19 sweep of visiting Central Catholic at Winter Gym in Valley Oak League action.
The win leaves Manteca (9-3 VOL, 13-8 overall) in sole possession of second place and two ahead of East Union and Central Catholic (7-5, 12-11) with two matches left to play. The top three teams go to the playoffs. The Buffaloes own the head-to-head tiebreaker over East Union and can clinch their first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth since 2011 by beating last-place Lathrop back at home Thursday.
The Buffaloes led wire to wire in the first and third games and trailed early in the second game before coming back and taking the lead for good.
“Probably our key tonight was serving and getting a few points right from the start,” Manteca coach Kevin Bolding said. “That was really huge as it turned the momentum in our favor and we kind of rode that out.
“We did that all of the first and third games and most of the second. We let everything else work off of our serving. The good defense, passing, digging – all of that.”
Due to a Central Catholic scheduling conflict, there were no lower-level games and the varsity game started an hour early.
“With having a different start time, we still came out ready,” Bolding said. “That can throw your whole schedule off.
“It was a great job by all of us. That type of schedule change can make a difference, but we didn’t let it make a difference.”
Morenzone (13 assists, five kills) had 15 service points and Deerinck (nine digs) seven. Destanie Elliott (two blocks) and Payton Reis had nine kills apiece, Kacy Bolding had 10 assists and Taylor Bays seven digs.
Sierra 3, Weston Ranch 1
The Timberwolves (2-10, 5-16) continued their recent run of good play Tuesday with a four-game upset of visiting Weston Ranch (5-7, 10-12). They shook off a lackluster first game to win 11-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21.
Vanessa Benham led the charge with five kills and five blocks. Brianna Padua added three kills and 12 digs. Vanessa Padilla contributed eight digs and three aces. Amaya Finley swatted 16 kills for the Cougars. Shantelle Robancho accumulated 15 digs, four aces and three blocks. Weston Ranch setter Jennifer Viguerias delivered 21 assists, and Iris Murphy finished with 24 digs.
Weston Ranch 2, Sierra 1
Emma Brierly hammered four kills, and Carlee Mahurin spiked three to go with two blocks in Sierra’s 25-17, 23-25, 9-15 loss. Melanie Fox chipped in 11 digs.
Weston Ranch improved to 3-9 in the VOL, 5-12 overall.
Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 1
With Sierra down 10-14, Alexus Surnip served the final six points of the match as the Timberwolves came out on the winning end of a 25-23, 23-25, 16-14 thriller.
Jenna Bolton and Teresa Benham (three aces) blasted four kills apiece.