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Lathrop struggles with unforced errors in loss to Escalon
Lathrop-Escalon girls volleyball
Lathrop’s Janessa Ward spikes the ball at Escalon. - photo by Wayne Thallander

ESCALON – No. 13 Lathrop battled early in the first set and late in the second and third against fourth-seeded Escalon but the Spartans could not close the gap as the host Cougars came away with a 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 sweep in opening-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls volleyball playoffs.

There were seven ties in the first set with the last one at 10-10 before the Cougars (19-9) went on a 10-3 run. Lathrop (16-7) trailed 18-12 in the second set and battled back to come within 21-18 but could manage just one more point. In the third set the Spartans fell behind early but thanks to a late 6-2 run Lathrop closed to within 22-16 and would come within 23-18 but no closer.

One of the major hurdles Lathrop could not overcome was that of unforced errors. The Spartans had eight in the first set, eight in the second and four in the third.

“Playing away can be hard,” Lathrop coach Toa Fa’ali’i said. “I think it can be a mental thing, because when we play at home we pretty much handle things. Tonight, maybe it was the atmosphere of the playoffs, but we just didn’t seem to connect. Our serve-receive was not on point.

“Congratulations to Escalon for moving on to the second round. I’m proud of all the girls and how they battled.”

Elizabeth Andrade led the Spartans attack with 14 kills and four digs.

“I put my all into each game,” Andrade said. “Not for myself but for my team.

“I just want the best for them.”

Lathrop’s Janessa Ward added 13 kills.

“At practice we were doing so well,” Ward said. “I guess that didn’t show up too good in this game.

“We had a lot of mistakes that we should have worked on but we fought really hard.”

Julia Roaquin made 25 assists for the Spartans with three digs apiece for Justine Mabutas and Annabelle Obasuyi.

Claire Barkus led a balanced attack for the Escalon with seven kills followed by Sophia Martin with four and Peyton Houser-Keaton with three.

“Credit our setters tonight,” Cougars coach Shaylynn Beam said. “We have been trying to work on mixing up our sets.

“Volleyball is a game of errors and whoever makes the most errors isn’t going to come out on top. We have been trying hard focusing on our side of the net. Playoffs are a long road ahead of us and it is only going to get tougher.”