LATHROP — Lathrop may have narrowly missed its first-ever postseason berth, but it ended its final campaign with the Valley Oak League with the biggest win in school history.
The Spartans go out with a thrilling 17-25, 16-25, 25-12, 25-21, 16-14 victory over Oakdale, the league’s runner-up after claiming the last three championships. They finished fourth with a 9-5 record and 12-9 overall, and the win is their first over the Mustangs (11-3, 13-11).
Lathrop moves to the new-look Western Athletic Conference next year, joining Beyer, Ceres, Grace Davis, Johansen, Los Banos, Pacheco and Mountain House.
“We’ve been battling the mental block of being able to finish and beat tough teams the last two years,” Lathrop coach Heather Anderson said. “We recognize that this win doesn’t change the standings, but it was a win we needed to shift our mentality not only to prove to everybody else, but ourselves that we are competitive.
“We have been working to prove we deserve to be in the VOL all season and I think finishing in the top half did that. We’ll be leaving the VOL with our heads held high and ready to take on the WAC.”
Oakdale had its way to start Wednesday’s regular-season finale, but the Spartans got untracked in a one-sided third set.
Game 5 featured several ties until two seniors came up with clutch plays in the end. Middle blocker Juliana Denning (nine kills) placed a dink past the Oakdale defense for match point, and outside hitter Malia Akers (five kills) blocked a tip to set off a wild celebration on the court. Myani Thornton (nine kills, 23 digs, two aces) and Harjass Kaur (22 digs) were also honored before the match for Senior Night.
“The seniors have been so instrumental for us,” Anderson said. “They will never forget that moment, and it just fires up my juniors and lower levels for the future of the program.”
Sophomore Jahsita Fa’alii led Lathrop with 17 kills, 20 digs and two aces. Krystal Tempra amassed 25 digs, while setter Karina Chavez collected 18 digs and 41 assists.
Kimball 3, W. Ranch 0
TRACY — Host Kimball (7-7, 14-15) rolled to a 25-9, 25-20, 25-13 win.
Weston Ranch (4-10, 12-14) was paced by Amaya Finley’s 13 kills and three aces. Zhane Sullivan added four kills, and Adriana Martinez led the defense.
Oakdale 2, Lathrop 1
LATHROP — The Spartans showed well in a 24-26, 25-21, 9-15 loss.
Charlene Bernal registered four kills and four digs. Hailey Hunter contributed 18 digs, while Nicole Vasconcellos dished out six assists.
Oakdale 2, Lathrop 0
LATHROP — Oakdale prevailed, 25-13, 25-20.
Ke’mya Barnett doled out three kills, Simranjeet Kaur picked up eight digs and Desiree Ambatali finished with four digs.
C. Catholic 2, Sierra 0
The Timberwolves were swept, 11-25, 21-25.
Chloe Sabado racked up 10 assists and four aces. Inessa Villanueva rapped three kills, and Jenna Villanueva contributed four digs.