STOCKTON — There are close volleyball matches and then there was the Valley Oak League duel between visiting Manteca and Weston Ranch.
This one went five sets with none being decided by more than three points before a Morgan Miramontes kill gave the Buffaloes a thrilling 31-29, 22-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-12 win Tuesday night.
“We kept our intensity up,” Miramontes said. “Everyone was feeding off of everyone else.
“That last point was exciting but I was more concerned with keeping it in to keep the rally going.”
The last set was tied at 1-1, 2-2 and 5-5 before Mildred Perez got a kill for Manteca (2-0 VOL, 4-3) to give the Buffaloes the lead they would hold the rest of the way. Manteca led by as much as 14-9 before Victoria Gulley got one of her game-high 27 kills for the Cougars (4-3, 0-2) and then two unforced errors drew Weston Ranch within 14-12. Miramontes (16 digs) then got her seventh kill of the night to end the match.
“We played well,” Gulley said. “But when it got close we seemed to get a little down on ourselves and tighten up.”
“But we played good overall and we were really scrappy.”
In order to force a fifth game the Buffaloes battled back from early deficits in the fourth set to tie the game at 17-17, 18-18 and 19-19 and then at 22-22. Manteca took the lead at 24-22 and won it when Mildred Perez got a set-ending kill.
“Weston Ranch is a really good team,” Buffaloes coach Kevin Bolding said. “But somehow we just kept battling.
“We got through those highs and lows.”
Unforced errors proved costly down the stretch for the Cougars.
“It could have gone either way,” Weston Ranch coach Stacia Stricker said. “One of the things we have been talking about over the last two games is continuing to play the game even when it is tight and playing to win rather than playing not to lose.
“It is just a mentality and we need to push past it and keep a positive attitude.”
For Manteca, Beth Aschenbrenner tallied 33 assists and seven digs, Taylor Bays 16 digs and seven kills, Alyssa Burch 13 kills, Melissa Hansen 21 digs and Jasmine Basuil 13 digs.
Elizabeth Alexander hit and set for the Cougars, belting 18 kills and making 25 assists, Jennifer Viguerias added 15 assists, Cassandra Alcazar six kills and Brijanae Moore four kills.
Weston Ranch 0
The Buffaloes won 25-14, 25-11.
For Manteca, Karisa Rubio played well as the setter, Sarah Inderbitzen did well in the middle and Tawny Deerinck and Emily Yu had outstanding efforts as outside hitters.
Shantelle Robancho had two kills for the Cougars and Aliyah Ryan five digs.
Weston Ranch 0
The Buffaloes held off the Cougars to win 25-18, 25-23.
Rhinnon Genilla had three aces and three kills for Manteca and Azucena Mendiola had two kills.