MODESTO – The season is young, but Rich Posz can already see the growth in his team.
East Union went 9-15 in Posz’s first season as head coach and finished four games below .500 in Valley Oak League play.
The close matches almost always slipped away from his Lancers.
A strong showing at the Officials Tournament at Johansen High this weekend has changed Posz’s perception.
His team has learned how to close.
East Union was crowned the champion at this weekend’s jamboree of North San Joaquin Valley programs. The Lancers defeated Ceres, Johansen, Grace Davis, Excel Academy, Denair, Central Valley and split with Downey and Riverbank.
Of the nine teams, East Union won the most sets, earning the distinction of champion. The Lancers entered the final match with Riverbank clinging to a two-set lead over the Bruins.
Riverbank won the first set 24-22, but East Union earned the split – and the trophy – with a 21-17 win.
Sets went to 21.
“The team improved with each game throughout the day,” Posz said. “It was a long day and by the time we played the final match, the girls were exhausted.”
East Union played a total of 16 sets, including a thrilling finale with Riverbank.
Experience was the difference-maker for the Lancers, who hosted Orestimba in today’s Sac-Joaquin Section-wide Foundation Games.
A year ago, Posz was a first-year varsity coach with a roster full of juniors. Nine of them, to be exact.
This fall, seven have returned smarter, sharper and stronger players. East Union also welcomed back senior Regina Dias, who contributed to a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff run as a sophomore in 2011 but sat out her junior year with a knee injury.
East Union’s leadership at the Officials Tournament came from that group of veterans.
Monica King led all players with 24 kills. Carolina Gutierrez had 15 aces. Jami Arceo picked up 56 digs, and setter Courtney Posz totaled 97 assists.
“The girls dug in and found a way to win…,” the older Posz said. “I really like this team’s ability to find ways to win games, which we lacked last year. I think the varsity experience level of this whole team will be our biggest asset for the upcoming season.”
East Union’s junior varsity team completed the sweep with a 4-0 mark, including wins over Downey, Central Valley, Johansen and Denair. There were eight teams in the JV bracket.
Ripon 3, Ripon Ch. 0
Host Ripon High avenged its 2012 playoff loss to its rival with Tuesday’s 25-20, 25-11, 25-19 victory. Foundation Games, however, do not count against records, as they are exhibitions that help benefit the Sac-Joaquin Section’s A. Dale Lacky Scolarship and Women in Sports Conference.
Andie Shelton had six kills, 13 assists and three blocks for Ripon Christian. Teagan Manus also contributed six kills, and Ellen Blankers finished with two blocks.