STOCKTON — Weston Ranch’s Amaya Finley knows how to get the ball down.
The Cougars senior exploded for 27 kills — some from the back row and others deftly placed — to lead Weston Ranch to a 25-21, 25-16, 22-25, 25-10 Valley Oak League win over visiting Sierra on Thursday night.
“Mentally, we’re coming together,” Finley said. “We have enough skill to go around, we just need to work on our fundamentals and stay mentally prepared because once we start getting down in our heads we mess up.
“When that happens, we need to start over thinking and play smarter.”
After the close 25-21 first set, Judit Zamora (seven aces, four kills) helped see to it that the Cougars (2-2 VOL, 9-3 overall) did not trail in the second when she buried three aces in an eight-point service run to start the game.
“The key to volleyball is serving,” Zamora said. “If you don’t get your serve over, you can’t score a point.
“Concentration is very important to me.”
Weston Ranch lost its concentration a bit in the third set but closed at the end from 24-19 to 24-22, and a kill by Finley and a pair of aces by Senecia Patten (six aces, three blocks, three kills) before Emma Brierly (four aces, four kills) got the winning kill for the Timberwolves (0-4, 7-5).
Cougars coach Eddie Menzel is pleased with the way his team has focused the last few weeks.
“Our school and our girls have had a really rough last couple of weeks,” Menzel said. “You have to give it to them for stepping up and overcoming a lot of adversity. They show up, they come to practice, they want to improve and get better. And the games are the same mentality.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but then they were able to mentally lock in, focus and understand that they needed to do the things that they needed to do. That carried us out of the slump in the first set, carried us into the second before a hiccup in the third. But our ability to refocus, our mental toughness and overall grit they have shown these last two weeks took over in the fourth.”
Nayeli Moreno had 31 assists for Weston Ranch and Diana Medina added three aces.
After not leading at all in the second set and falling behind 7-2 to start the third, Sierra battled back to tie the game at 11, 12 and 13 before an errant Cougars hit gave the Timberwolves the lead for good at 14-13.
“We saw some things that we need to work on,” Sierra coach Trinity Johnson said. “We shook things up a bit and learned some things about some of our players.”
Hailey Steele had nine kills, five aces and five digs for the Timberwolves. Emma Brierly added 29 assists, four aces and four kills; Lindsey Walljasper had four kills, four blocks and three digs and Kylie Matteroli chipped in four kills, three aces and three digs.
Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 0
Alexis Flores had four kills and two aces for the Timberwolves in a 25-21, 25-19 win.
Stella Brierly and Felicia La Quaglia added three kills each for Sierra.
Allyna Tayag (five digs) and Briana Buenrostro (seven assists) had three aces apiece for the Cougars.
Sierra 2, Weston Ranch 0
Brooklyn Dias had great net play and held it together for the winning serve in a 25-11, 25-23 win for the Timberwolves.
Chloe Sabado had nine aces for Sierra.
Cheyenne Lewis and Marisella Martinez each had five aces for the Cougars and Julianna Ayala chipped in four digs.