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Buffs sweep Kimball to keep playoff hopes alive
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Kimball put a scare into Manteca High the last time the two met for a Valley Oak League volleyball match.

Not so much in the rematch Tuesday in Tracy.

Manteca swept the Jaguars with surprising ease (25-19, 25-15, 25-16) in a contest that both squads needed to have a shot at earning a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

The Buffaloes (7-7, 9-11 overall) are ranked 15th in Division III according to the midseason release of the SJS playoff power ratings, while Kimball is No. 17 in Division II. Only the top 16 rated teams in Divisions I-IV advance.

The section will release final brackets on its website ( Thursday.

“I don’t know if this gets us into the playoffs,” Manteca coach Tim Horning said. “Regardless of what the situation is, we wanted to go out and play for pride and win tonight.”

The mission was accomplished, and much faster than expected. At Winter Gym on Oct. 6, Kimball nearly swept the Buffaloes before dropping the third game, 26-28. Manteca claimed the final two sets to post its most thrilling win of the season.

Jimi Guibor helped Manteca build early momentum by serving in five consecutive aces in the Game 1. Julia Martinez and Myklyn Balmut were productive at the net, as they churned out nine and eight kills, respectively. Setter Sammy Morris turned in 20 assists, and libero Nicole Magnuson recorded eight digs.

“It was definitely a lot quicker than I thought it would be,” Horning said. “The last time (against Kimball) we came back to win the last three (games), so I figured it would be another barnburner.

“They were making a lot of mistakes and we capitalized — eight of our kills were off their overpasses. Our serving was definitely on, so that also helped.”

Weston Ranch 3, Lathrop 0

In Lathrop, the host Spartans (1-12, 2-18) proved to be a worthy adversary at the start before ultimately falling in three, 22-25, 23-25, 13-25.

Desiree Fonoti was impressive from the service line for Weston Ranch (6-8, 10-10), tallying 10 aces to go with two kills. Candisse Griffin led the attack with five kills, Aoloni Etu dished out 13 assists and Miranda Holmes and Jasvir Kaur each had three blocks.

For Lathrop, Monica Brambila, Cherubine Consul and Erica Sanchez shared match-high honors with five kills. Janel Butler contributed 14 assists, Briana Lopez collected four aces and Anselma Rodriguez chipped in three aces.

Lathrop caps its season tonight against visiting Kimball.