Central Catholic remains in the driver’s seat for the Valley Oak League championship after the conference’s newest member knocked off defending titlist Manteca 6-3 for a second time this season.
The visiting Raiders (8-0) are likely four wins away from securing at least a title share with its other chief rival, Oakdale, still standing in the way with a single defeat. The Manteca-Oakdale VOL finale on Oct. 16 will have Sac-Joaquin Section postseason implications either way.
For Manteca (6-2) to have a shot at exacting revenge Wednesday, coach MaryAnn Tolbert figured her three doubles teams would each have to come through with victories like they did during their Sept. 2 date at Central Catholic. The Buffaloes won two out of the three doubles encounters, but it didn’t matter at the end with the Raiders sweeping five of the six singles contests.
Newcomer Lelja Pepic, formerly a standout for Manteca’s cross country team, defeated Marissa Lopes for the Buffaloes’ only singles point. Pepic captured the VOL Novice Tournament title over the weekend before debuting in a dual match against Weston Ranch on Tuesday. If there is a silver lining here it’s that the addition of Pepic strengthens the team’s singles ladder for its expected playoff run.
The all-freshman No. 2 doubles team of Koryn Menasco and Stefania Mercado squeaked past Lauren Aja and Alyssa McPhee in a competitive match, 7-5, 6-4. In the final match of the day, the third doubles pair of Rubel Dehal and Gladis Sandoval cruised, 6-2, 6-1.
Elizabeth Tolbert, Manteca’s top player, put up a fight in her rematch against Payton Kelley but fell short, 3-6, 5-7. Kelley won their first meeting, 6-1, 6-3.
“Obviously it wasn’t the outcome we hoped for,” coach Tolbert said. “I’m really proud of Lejla battling so hard at No. 6 to get the win. The two freshmen at No. 2 doubles have been solid all season and always work hard to bring us that point, as well as Gladis and Rubel at No. 3, who always put forth 100 percent effort.”
Manteca hosts fourth-place Sierra today.
Sierra 5, Kimball 4
Host Sierra evened its VOL mark to 5-5 thanks to a clutch win from No. 5 singles Nour Hamza. She secured the deciding point with a 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 victory over Carla Espinosa.
Annie Banks continued to show why she is one of the league’s best with a commanding 6-0, 6-2 triumph against Kylie Moxley in the No. 1 match. Claire Banks made quick work of her opponent at No. 3, 6-0, 6-0.
Sierra’s top doubles team of Katarina Malabanan and Monique Angel coasted to a 6-1, 6-0 win. Veronica and Alyssa Patterson picked up a big point at No. 3 doubles, beating Sabrina Akbarzaden and Alvx Tibbits, 7-5, 6-4.