Kevin Bolding Jr. inherited a young boys’ volleyball squad.
The Manteca High coach has one starter from the previous year to go with a strong mix of underclassmen.
That inexperience showed in Monday’s Valley Oak League opener, with the Buffaloes getting swept by Weston Ranch at Winter Gymnasium, 21-25, 14-25, 19-25.
“This is the first time we beat Manteca,” said Cougars coach Debi Chavez, who has been with the Weston Ranch program since its inception three years ago.
She added: “Finally, we have a team that can pull it together.”
Chavez, in contrast to Manteca, has over a half-dozen players back from a year ago, including libero Jimmy Nguyen, setter Mailo Bayot, attacker Andre Salazar, middle blocker Armando Mendoza, and outside hitter Josh Ico.
The Cougars (1-0 VOL, 6-2) jumped out to a 7-1 start in the first game, getting a pair of kills from Ico – two of his game-high 10 kills – two aces served by Vinay Singh, and a block from Raul Melgarejo.
The latter was a key contributor for the highly successful Weston Ranch basketball team.
Manteca (0-1 VOL, 2-3) battled back, tying the game at 12-12 thanks to a shot by Oscar Anaya.
The Buffaloes kept pace, scoring off a block by Jeremy Gabriel, and kills by Alejandro Tornero and Adrian Gonzales.
Tied 18-18, the Cougars took control from there, getting a block from Mendoza and kills from Salazar and Lawrence Williams for the closeout.
In the second game, Weston Ranch jumped ahead again, taking a 7-2 lead. Singh kept one rally alive with a save while Melgarejo scored off a backhanded shot.
The Buffaloes, who some communication problems to go with their passing woes, managed to battle back, cutting the deficit to 13-10 on a block by AJ Singh and two kills by Anaya.
Salazar and Vinay Singh helped pad the Cougars lead, 19-11, with each serving up an ace and Vinay Singh coming up with another save that led to a point.
Ico, Francisco Vega, Mendoza and Vinay Singh put the finishing touches in closing out the second game.
Manteca kept it close through the early goings of the third game.
Melgarejo, Mendoza and Vega helped Weston Ranch pull away, with Salazar delivering an ace for the clincher – he had three aces in the three-game match.
Bayot recorded 29 saves and Mendoza chipped in with seven kills.
“We made too many errors,” said Bolding. “Overall, I thought we played well and our effort was much better.”
East Union 3, Kimball 1
TRACY – The Lancers overcame a flat start in their VOL opener on Monday, defeating the host Jaguars in four games, 25-20, 25-21, 16-25, 25-13.
“Serving was the key for us,” said East Union coach Chelsea Herrera.
For the Lancers (1-0 VOL, 6-2), Jonathan Castaneda served up four aces to go along with seven kills and two digs.
Setter Parmbir Khattra chipped in with 24 assists, four aces and three digs while Austin Scott delivered on six kills, two digs and two aces.
East Union will travel to Sierra High on Wednesday.
Weston Ranch 2, Manteca 1
The Cougars edged out the Buffaloes by taking the decisive third game, 17-15.
The two teams split, with Weston Ranch winning the opener, 25-23, and Manteca (0-1 VOL, 2-1) evening the match with a 25-17 victory in the second game.
Buffaloes coach Tara Maruyena recognized the play of Angel Rodriguez, who scored 10 points off of serves, and setter Alex Padilla.