LATHROP — Momentum is a good thing to have, and the Lathrop volleyball team has it.
The Spartans tallied their first winning season last year at 9-5 in the Valley Oak League and 13-9 overall, and due to the quadrennial Sac-Joaquin Section realignment they are headed to the Western Athletic Conference this season.
With no chance of making the playoffs last season, Lathrop could have gone quietly into the night with the last year’s season finale and its final VOL contest, hosting perennial powerhouse Oakdale.
That did not happen, although it looked like it would. The Mustangs took the first two sets before the Spartans bounced back for a five-set win, capping their most successful season with the most significant win in program history.
“Though it didn’t impact our standings, defeating Oakdale for the first time in program history on our senior night was a definite highlight for us,” third-year Lathrop coach Heather Anderson said. “We came from behind down 0-2 and fought back to win in the fifth set, 16-14.
“This proved to our girls that we are capable of competing with strong programs in the area and we hope to only build up from here.”
The Spartans will have to fill a big hole in the middle of their lineup as starters Malia Akers, Harjass Kaur, Myani Thornton and Juliana Denning all graduated. Looking to step up are returning first-team All-VOL outside hitter Jahsita Faahlii who is a junior, second-team All-VOL setter and team captain Karina Chavez who runs the offense and is a senior, and four-year varsity starting middle blocker Avleen Kaur.
“I am excited to go into the WAC and really make a name for ourselves with new and unfamiliar opponents,” Anderson said. “Establishing new rivalries will be a fun experience.
“We came up one game short of our program goal of making playoffs last season, so we will use that as motivation this year. This group of seniors has been instrumental in turning our program around, so I have confidence that they have what it takes.”
Lathrop has its first game Friday, Sept 17, at Ripon and begins its journey in the WAC at Ceres on Thursday, Aug. 30.