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Reserve outside hitter helps No. 3 Buffs lock up sweep of Los Banos
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Manteca middle Karlie Spohn rises above the net for a spike against visiting Los Banos on Tuesday. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

Robin Chandler looked to reserve Michaela Singh to provide a spark for third-seeded Manteca, which had some trouble in putting No. 14 Los Banos away in the third game of their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III opener Tuesday at Winter Gym.

The 5-foot-10 outside hitter delivered three of the Buffaloes’ final six points, and they went on to secure a 25-14, 25-11, 25-21 sweep.

“She’s only a sophomore,” Chandler said of Singh. “Because we have so many other hitters you don’t get to see her as much, but she can actually hit really well. I can’t wait for people to see more of her. Real proud of her.”

After impressively dominating the first two sets, Manteca (25-6), gift-wrapped 12 points to the Tigers (11-12) with unforced errors. The Buffs twice trailed by as much as five in the middle of the game, and Singh was able to help turn the tide.

Her only kill of the match was timely, as it cut the deficit to 20-19. It was also a flashy capper to a rally that standout senior libero Abbey Kadillak (11 digs, five assists) kept alive with a diving dig. Singh later served out the final three points, the first two of which went for aces. Adrianna Powell (six kills, five aces) closed out the match with a kill.

“It’s a really good team and I’m very grateful to be playing on it,” Singh said. “When Robin needs help I’ll always be there. It was exciting to go in and be able to serve the winning point. That first serve was a little lucky, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it over or not, but I’m glad it did.”

The final set serves as a wake-up call for the reigning Valley Oak League champion, which notched fifth straight three-game victory. Eleventh-seeded Hilmar (14-11) is sure to have Manteca’s attention after stunning No. 6 Beyer (20-3) in three games on Tuesday. The Yellowjackets visit on Thursday.

“We need to stop relaxing,” Manteca setter Arielle Chandler said. “We can get a little too confident in ourselves and our abilities. We have to keep pushing and stay on them no matter who we’re winning or how badly we’re beating them. We have to clean up a lot of those errors, myself included.”

Manteca left little doubt in the first two sets, taking command early in both 7-2 leads. The Buffaloes scored 13 of the first 15 points in Game 2 and led 18-5 after Courtney Washburn (four kills, two blocks) and Izabella Sanchez (three blocks) combined to roof America Ordunez.

“They came out with high energy and they were focused,” coach Chandler said of her players. “That (Los Banos) team was as scrappy as can be and kept the ball going.”

Los Banos, to its credit, made the Buffaloes earn most of their points in those two sets. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they got the best version of the Buffs to start.

Manteca was on its game in all facets, and Arielle Chandler (26 assists, three aces) spread the wealth to her stable of attackers. Karlie Spohn led the team with 12 kills and two blocks, and Camrenne Genilla added six kills and eight digs. Isabella Pires aided the defense with six digs.

“It really makes my job easier being able to have more than one hitter to focus on and knowing that no matter who I get it to they can out the ball down,” Chandler said.