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Manteca nearly upsets TCC champ in playoffs
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To be the champion Manteca would had to beat league champions in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III team playoffs.

The Buffaloes came oh so close to getting the first one out of the way.

They battled Tri-County Conference champion River City tough but ultimately dropped a 5-4 decision in West Sacramento.

The Raiders face Western Athletic Conference titlist Los Banos in the semifinals next Monday. Valley Oak League champion Central Catholic and Pioneer face off in the other semifinal.

“It was a really good match that could have gone either way,” Manteca coach MaryAnn Tolbert said. “I felt like we competed well with them.”

It came down to the No. 4 singles match between Jasmine Benafghoul and Fechi Nkwocha, the last two players left on the courts. Benafghoul prevailed for River City, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.

“Fechi felt bad walking off the court, but she did a fantastic job all year for us,” Tolbert said of one of her four seniors.

Senior Sealy McAdams defeated Beatrice Bui at No. 2 singles, 6-2, 6-4. Sophomore Lejla Pepic, a key midseason pickup for the Buffaloes (15-6), downed Jessie Olsen, 6-2, 6-4.

The VOL runner-up got the rest of its points from doubles. The all-freshman No. 2 pair of Koryn Menasco and Stefania Mercado squeaked past Jessiza Maltez and Karen Lee, 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 7-5. Gladis Sandoval and Rubel Dehal won the third doubles match, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

“For two freshman who had never played before (the season), Koryn and Stefania have grown so much as tennis players and they worked real well together today,” Tolbert said.

Elizabeth Tolbert dropped three deuce points in the opening set and lost the No. 1 singles match 3-6, 1-6 to Julia Quenga. Julia Saling (1-6, 0-6), Katie Inderbitzin (1-6, 0-6) and No. 1 doubles Kaitlynn Hoyer and Alondra Avila (1-6, 4-6) also competed for the Buffaloes.

 “A couple of years ago we would have been delighted to have the season we just had, but after two years of winning the VOL second place doesn’t look as good,” coach Tolbert said. “But in reality, considering the girls we lost last year, we did a really good job this year. We’re already looking at next year and coming back stronger.”