It looked as if it was going to come down to the No. 3 doubles match.
Then Manteca High No. 5 singles player Adaeze Nkwocha cut the suspense short.
Her clutch three-set victory over Cristina Poklay clinched the Buffaloes’ 5-3 upset over visiting Weston Ranch Tuesday, ruining the Cougars’ bid for a second straight perfect season in the Valley Oak League.
Weston Ranch (11-1) already had the conference championship wrapped up going in but put its 24-match win streak on the line against second-place Manteca (9-4).
Nkwocha appeared to be on her way to a loss after dropping the first set 2-6 and falling behind 1-5 in the second. She battled back to win 7-6 with a 7-5 tiebreaker and cruised in the third and deciding set, 6-2.
“Adaeze came through for us in a huge way,” said Manteca coach MaryAnn Tolbert. “The last time we played Weston Ranch we lost to them by one, so we knew it was going to come down one match again.”
And that could have been any other match, as five out of the nine went the distance.
Weston Ranch ace Ly Hoang defeated Wendy Lin (6-1, 6-3) in the No. 1 singles showdown, and Manteca’s Jasmine Sandhu dispatched Aarelle Albino (6-3, 6-3) in No. 2.
The No. 3 match went to Cougar Samantha Paras, who edged Weley Lin (4-6, 6-4, 6-4). Manteca’s Rosa Zou beat Chelsea Olitan (6-4, 4-6, 6-3) in No. 4 singles, and Weston Ranch No. 6 Rainah Bate coasted past Jenny Yu (6-1, 6-0).
Manteca’s two undefeated doubles tandems were also tested.
Its top pair of Kaile Hunt and Mia Ramirez came from behind to knock off Nancy Nguyen and Sierra Bowen, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Liz Diaz and Ruth Habte went down that same path, beating Cinda Moua and Delarine Barut, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
As for that No. 3 doubles match, it never finished. After the first two sets were split in tiebreakers, the third set was called off due to darkness.
Manteca had won the contest anyway.
The Buffaloes will look to shore up the No. 2 playoff berth Thursday when they host Sonora. Both Kimball and Oakdale are a match back and tied for third place, but only two teams qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-II Team Tournament.