Alyssa Burch called for the quick set and Beth Aschenbrenner delivered.
Burch emphatically crushed her 10th kill and put Manteca in the driver’s seat in Monday’s crosstown tussle with visiting Sierra at Winter Gym. The long-limbed middle blocker then stuffed a Sierra spike attempt for the clinching point on the next play, as the Buffaloes rallied late for a hard-earned sweep (25-17, 27-25, 27-25.
“I wanted to (finish it) bad, but I knew I needed my teammates as much as they needed me,” said Burch, who led all players in kills and blocks (five). “I wouldn’t have gotten that hit if they weren’t making the passes.”
Manteca coach Kevin Bolding was pleased with how its team responded to pressure situations as it evened its Valley Oak League and overall records to 2-2 and 4-4, respectively. Sierra (1-3, 3-4) twice had game point in hand in the second set, and once in the third. Burch accounted for Manteca’s final three points in Game 3.
“We’ve come a long way,” Bolding said. “We’re taking steps to try and move up and get to that next level. We’d like to be able to compete with everybody but it’s a process. It’s like I told them, we have to learn how to win before we start winning.”
Aschenbrenner finished with 23 assists. Aryanna Martinez was instrumental on offense and defense with six kills and six digs. Jasmine Basuil and Morgan Miramontes each had eight digs. Basuil tallied two of her three aces on back-to-back serves during a big swing in the first game when she was on the line for nine consecutive points to give the Buffaloes a 12-8 lead. She also came through with a couple highlight-worthy pancake digs.
It was a tough loss for Sierra, which had missed several opportunities to extend the match. The Timberwolves scored six unanswered points to start the match as Manteca struggled to get untracked. Burch got the Buffaloes going by blocking Gianna Lenoci’s tip. A serving error tied it 8-8, and an errant hit allowed Manteca to go ahead for good in the opening set.
Sierra appeared to have taken control of the second game while up, 18-15. Two missed serves, including one with a game-point advantage, and hitting errors doomed the T’Wolves.
“We had problems finishing tonight, but I think we proved we’re more than capable of hanging with teams,” Sierra coach Trinity Johnson said.
Sierra started off hot in Game 3 and took a 6-1 lead and was twice ahead by as much as six before the Buffaloes rallied back.
“Sometimes our energy just drops and we just have to get it back up,” Burch said. “We have to push ourselves, put the score aside and play our game.”
Claudia Hunter (6 kills, 6 digs) and Danielle Parham (5 kills, 4 blocks) led Sierra.
Sierra 2, Manteca 0
Cecelia Salcedo led the Sierra attack with nine assists, and the Timberwolves held on to win, 25-22, 25-20.
Isabela Carter added four kills and two digs. Carolina Ortega picked up seven digs.
Manteca def. Sierra
Vanessa Benham slapped down three kills for the Timberwolves, but it wasn’t enough to put the team over the hump. Scores were not available as of press time.
Kaitlynn Cathy (8 services points, 3 aces) and Karla De La Cueva (4 hits, good passing) were other key contributors for Sierra.
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