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East Union’s Nylah Dyson named All-VOL MVP
Sophomore guard is the fourth straight Lancer to earn the award
All-VOL girls basketball
East Union point guard Nylah Dyson shoots the finger-roll layup against Sierra’s Emma Gilmore and Taylor Zalunardo (1) - photo by Wayne Thallander

The Valley Oak League’s girls basketball MVP honor remains with East Union.

Sophomore point guard Nylah Dyson is the latest Lancer to earn the recognition, following Taylor Snaer (2022-23), Lani Tu’uga (2020) and Donja Payne (2019). There were no postseason awards for the pandemic shortened season in 2020-21.  East Union has claimed at least a share of the title every season during this stretch.

East Union’s Jim Agostini repeats as Coach of the Year.

“Very humbling,” Agostini said. “What a great opportunity it is to coach these girls playing at the high school level like this. These girls have come through the program with the dedication and passion to play the game. They put the work into the craft, and when you get talented players willing to do that it makes our jobs as coaches a lot easier.”

This year, the Lancers (8-2 VOL, 24-6 overall) have split the championship with Manteca (8-2, 25-8), and they each have three players on the All-VOL first and second teams. Fourth-place Sierra (4-6, 15-13) has two.

Dyson is back on the list after earning a first-team spot as a freshman.  She averaged 17.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 10 league games.

“When she steps on the floor every night, opponents are geared to stop her,” Agostini said. “I thought she took her game to another level from her freshman year. To be able to be voted league MVP as a sophomore is a tremendous accomplishment by her.”

Fellow Lancer Donnese Payne is a first-team selection and now a two-time All-Defensive Team member. The 6-foot center and fourth-year senior turned in 6.8 points, 13.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per night in league play and had three double-doubles. Payne’s 14.8 rebounds overall ranked her among the best in the state.

Manteca seniors Jada Ikharo and Izabella Sanchez also made the All-VOL first team.

Sanchez has overcome multiple major knee injuries, making it back to the first team after doing so as a sophomore. A multi-faceted player at 6-1, she played different positons for the Buffaloes, whether it was as point guard, an off-the-ball wing or in the post. She netted four double-doubles in league and averaged 11.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals.

Ikharo enjoyed a breakout senior season, leading Manteca with 12.6 points per game to go with 7.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 3.0 steals. She also had four double-doubles in league.

Sierra senior guard Emma Gilmore is a back-to-back All-VOL first-team selection, tallying 10.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.6 blocks against league opponents.  

Making the All-VOL second team are Manteca junior wing Michailla Springs (9.3 points, 3.3 rebounds), East Union sophomore forward Zyondupree Beasley (8.0 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Sierra sophomore guard Mya Everett (10.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks)

Sierra senior Taylor Zalunardo and Manteca sophomore Jaesha Dunn join Payne on the All-Defensive Team.

Zalunardo also earned honorable mention along with Sierra teammate Abigail Chapman and Manteca’s Brea Viera.