Lathrop High wasn’t leaving anything to chance on Monday.
Against a winless yet feisty Sierra squad, the Spartans snapped a two-game Valley Oak League losing skid by sweeping the best-of-five home match, 25-11, 25-15, 25-18.
“We saw this as a must-win,” said Lathrop coach Heather Anderson, whose team fell to Manteca High and East Union, respectively.
The Timberwolves were in every game but let opportunities get away.
“We need to stay the course and finish the task at hand,” Sierra coach Michelle Springmeyer said.
The Spartans (5-2 VOL, 14-7) jumped out to 15-6 in the first game thanks in part to the heavy-hitting pair of Gabriel Gutierrez and Tyler Riggleman. Both set the early trend by delivering on kill shots.
The Timberwolves (0-5 VOL, 0-13) countered with junior middle blocker Cyrus Hunter, who had a couple of kills.
Lathrop, for the exception of a few unforced errors, wrapped up the first game on a service ace by Gutierrez.
Sierra kept pace with the Spartans in the second game, tying things up three times. Jaylen Jackson and Hunter had blocks while Carson Hibbs and Jackson scored on service aces.
Sergio Tapia helped fuel the Spartans with a pair of aces and Gutierrez got a point off a misdirected return.
The Timberwolves kept pace, with a Carson Hibbs’ spike cutting the deficit, 14-11.
Lathrop began pulling away. Gutierrez racked up 14 kills in the match, including three to help close out the Game 2.
Sierra showed plenty of fight in Game 3, climbing out of an 11-4 hole to pull to within two.
Ysrael Gutierrez, who was playing his first game at middle blocker – “It’s a new position for him,” Anderson said – scored off a block. Gabriel Gutierrez and Riggleman had two kills each as Lathrop claimed a 14-6 advantage.
But the Timberwolves put together a 9-3 run highlighted by a pair of aces by Lance Van.
Lathrop ended the match on another Ysrael Gutierrez block coupled with an ace by Riggleman and two kills by Gabriel Gutierrez, who also tallied 18 digs, three aces, two blocks and an assist.
Riggleman finished the match with 10 kills and two aces. Libero Mark Fabian racked up 20 digs, setter Rael ‘R.J.’ Carmesis chipped in with 24 assists and seven digs, and Ysrael Gutierrez had five blocks.
“I still think we have not yet played up to our potential,” said Anderson.
Hunter and Vann led Sierra.
Vann, in addition to his two aces, delivered three kills and three digs while Hunter had five kills, three blocks and two digs.
Springmeyer also recognized Jake Alton.
“His defense was a real asset for us,” she said.