Lathrop wasn’t given much time to mull over a disappointing result.
One night after losing at Mountain House, the reigning Western Athletic Conference champion Spartans took care of third-place Ceres at home Tuesday, 25-16, 25-14, 23-25, 25-15.
“We really wanted that win, but I just think the odds were against us that time,” Lathrop senior outside hitter Jerico Santillan said. “Getting the win next day is a good refresher. It let’s us know we’re still in it.”
The setback is Lathrop’s first in WAC play — ever. The school moved from the Valley Oak League after the 2017-18 academic year and ran the table for two championships since. The 2020 and 21 seasons were cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lathrop coach Toa Fa’ali’i and Santillan (11 kills, two blocks) both complimented Mountain House’s play and fan support but are moving forward with the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in mind. The Spartans claimed the Division III championship last season, relying on a deep senior class.
Fa’ali’i is trying to give his reserve players as much match time as possible. That was the case again Tuesday after the Spartans (7-1 WAC, 13-4 overall) rolled through the first two sets. With setter Alexander Vere (31 assists) and libero Lucas Baluyut (32 digs) remaining on the floor with the second-teamers, Lathrop was in position to sweep after building a 19-15 lead late in the game 3.
The Bulldogs (4-4, 6-4) barked back with four straight points and jumped ahead, 21-20. Fa’ali’i sent his starters back in, but Ceres continued its surge. Gio Sio blocked Lathrop freshman Gabriel Fa’ali’I (11 kills, four aces), and Faiva Tuakalua served an ace to make it 23-20.
Even though Lathrop wound up dropping the set, coach Fa’ali’i got what he wanted out of his second unit.
“Getting the reserves in is important to me as we move closer and closer (to the postseason),” he said. “We never know with injuries and stuff like that, so I want to make sure that my subs can play. When I put them in, I don’t want them to miss a beat. They know how to play, it’s just experience. They need that for down line.”
With the front-line players back in the match, game 4 was all Spartans. They broke away with a 14-2 run that had them well ahead, 23-11.
“It’s great to come back here today to get this win and kind of put Mountain House behind us,” coach Fa’ali’i said.
Ripon 3, Waterford 0
Ripon (10-6) made quick work of the visiting Wildcats (3-11) in the non-league tilt, 25-7, 25-19, 25-14.
The Indians dominated from the service line, with Marquell Marshall racking up nine aces in 14 service points to go with 15 digs. Anthony Gomez and Johnny Rey chipped in five aces each.
Colten Moreno clobbered seven kills. Hunter Adams (three kills) and Gomez each had six assists.
Lathrop 2, Ceres 0
Jorge Reyes had 17 assists and seven digs to help Lathrop (7-1 WAC, 13-4 overall) hold on for the 25-21, 25-23 sweep.
Justin Alvarez paced the attack with six kills and five aces. Persius Fa’ali’i and Cameron Loyola each had five kills. Edmund Balugo picked up a team-high 11 digs.
Ripon 2, Waterford 0
Armando Ayon compiled eight kills and 10 aces as Ripon rolled, 25-15, 25-21.
Alexander Alvarellos added five kills to the attack, and Max Ferral handed out nine assists. Leo Barrera led the defense with 26 digs.