By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca battles back from early deficits before putting Lathrop away in four sets
Manteca-Lathrop boys volleyball
Manteca’s Julio Mateo looks to split the defense of Lathrop’s Marc Llorin (7) and Marco Palomares (5). - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Manteca fell behind in the first three sets Thursday night, battling back to win the first two and nearly pulling off a sweep before being edged in the third and then running away with the fourth in a 27-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-12 non-league boys volleyball win over host Lathrop.

“In all of the first three games, we gave them pretty good leads,” Buffaloes coach Jennifer Reis said. “Including that first one, where they had a 7-0 lead. We just had trouble with that first server and getting out of that first rotation.

“I thought the boys responded really well with their first big challenge of the year, and it was great to see them respond.”

Jesus Gomez (16 kills, 14 digs) played a big part in the wins of those first two sets for Manteca (3-0). With the Buffaloes trailing 24-25 in the first set, Gomez blasted kills for two of the next three points for the win.

Manteca was ahead 23-22 in the second set with the defense for the Spartans (1-2) bracing for another Gomez kill when he dinked the ball into the back row for a point. Gomez got a kill on the next point for the win and the 2-0 lead.  

“I developed that kill last year,” Gomez said of his late-set dink. “It’s fun to do with my setter Mark (Bondoc). He’s amazing.

“It was a hard match. Every game we started down but we battled back and finished the right way.”

Julio Mateo added 13 kills for the Buffaloes.

“In that third set we struggled to catch up,” Mateo said. “Our serve-receive was really struggling.

“But we fought well, came back and finished strong.”

Manteca was trailing 20-11 in the third set when the Buffaloes mounted a viscous rally, coming back to within 20-23 before Lathrop got the final two points with Gabriel Fa’ali’i (25 kills, four digs) notching the final point on a kill.

In the first set, Manteca was leading 24-21 when Fa’ali’i reeled off four consecutive kills to give the Spartans game point before Gomez sealed the win for the Buffaloes.

“This is why I set up to play the likes of Manteca and Weston Ranch,” Lathrop coach Toa Fa’ali’i said. “I know they’re good, and it is a good test for us because we are a young team, and in order for us to get better we have to play teams like this, and I know if we play Manteca or Weston Ranch no matter what kind of lead you have it’s not even safe.

“Manteca is a great team. I didn’t expect them to be this good or this big.”

Bondoc paced the Buffaloes offense with 37 assists along with three aces and two blocks. Aidan Patton added nine kills, Manny Ramirez six digs and Garrison Reis five kills with two blocks.

Alexander Vere posted 39 kills and six digs for the Spartans. Charles Reyes chipped in 17 digs and four assists, Persius Fa’ali’i 12 digs and Marco Palomares eight kills and three digs.