Kevin Bolding all along felt that his Manteca volleyball team had enough talent to compete with the Valley Oak League’s elite.
The Buffaloes finally proved their second-year head coach right on senior night Tuesday. Unfortunately for them, it came on their final match of the season, a thrilling five-game win (25-11, 29-27, 21-25, 23-25, 15-12) over playoff-bound Kimball.
Manteca finished fifth in the league with a 7-7 record and is 10-10 overall while ending a five-year streak of losing seasons.
“It was a good way to end the season,” Bolding said.
But he can’t help but think, “Where was this all season?”
After Kimball (9-5, 18-19) forced the fifth set, Manteca managed to regain control and led 6-1 at one point. The win was clinched when a Jaguar player sent a spike wide.
Manteca had its best offensive match of the season with three players finishing with double-digit kills. Morgan Miramontes led the way with her stellar all-around effort that included 14 kills, 12 digs and three aces. Mildred Perez contributed 11 kills while standout middle Alyssa Burch swatted 10 kills and four blocks in her final outing as a Buffalo.
Fellow senior Beth Aschenbrenner had 37 assists and five aces. Taylor Bays and Melissa Hansen each recorded 17 digs, and Jasmine Basuil turned in 10.
“The big thing for us is that we started taking more swings at the ball tonight,” Bolding said. “All year I asked them to do that because when we do good things start to happen. We ended up with a ton of kills tonight, for a change.”
Manteca graduates just four seniors — Chelsea Bruch, Aschenbrenner, Burch and Perez — but all were key members of the 2014 team. Bolding expects to be competitive next season with nine players returning, and that’s not including 6-foot-2 sophomore Loretta Kakala, who forced to sit out the entire season after transferring from East Union.
“We lose a lot of production from our four seniors, but we’re going to be OK,” Bolding said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Weston Ranch 3, Lathrop 0
In Stockton, Victoria Gulley racked up nine kills, five digs and five aces in the final match of her high school career.
The Weston Ranch standout was aided by Jazelle Pereña and Elizabeth Alexander’s 13 and 11 assists. Brijanae Moore added two blocks for the Cougars (5-9, 9-10), who won 25-17, 25-15, 25-14.
Ripon Christian 3,
Le Grand 0
The Knights (12-2, 22-6) annexed their fifth straight league championship with a resounding 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 sweep.
Seniors Dani Erdelatz (22 kills, 18 digs), Elisabeth Regusci (30 assists, four aces), Makenna Koslosky (18 digs) and Elise Regusci were honored before their final regular-season home match.
Manteca 2, Kimball 0
The Buffaloes downed visiting Kimball, 25-23, 25-16.
Tawny Deerinck spearheaded the attack with 10 kills, while Emily Yu and AJ Hoyer chipped in four apiece. Karisa Rubio handed out 15 assists. Destanie Elliot and Sarah Inderbitzen each had three blocks.
Weston Ranch 2, Lathrop 1
Host Weston Ranch (2-12, 3-16) edged out its rivals, 24-26, 28-26, 15-11.
Briana Yates served five aces to lead the way. Selena Hoang (three kills), Jenna Fernandez (six assists) and Aliyah Ryan (seven digs) were other standouts for the Cougars.