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Buffs end five-year drought against Sierra
Manteca Highs Samantha Morris (9) and Myklyn Balmut (13) try and stop Allison Walljaspers spike in their match against visiting Sierra Tuesday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

It had been nearly five years since Manteca High’s volleyball team had beaten intra-city rival Sierra.

That streak ended Tuesday at Winter Gym, and the Buffaloes broke the hex emphatically with a three-game sweep (25-21, 25-18, 25-13).

“It’s been a while, man. It’s been a while,” said Manteca coach Tim Horning.

The last time Manteca got the best of Sierra was on Oct. 10, 2006 during the second year of Horning’s tenure. The Timberwolves won the next eight.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” Manteca junior setter Samantha Morris said. “I’m sure it’s been a long five years, so it was time.”

Manteca (2-2 Valley Oak League, 4-8 overall) never trailed in Tuesday’s match and was the dominant team for the most part. It held 6-1 leads in each of the first two games, and in Game 3 the widest margin peaked at 14, 19-5.

“It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a match like that,” Horning said. “The girls played well, and we benefited from a bunch of errors.”

The only competitive stretch happened toward the end of the first set.

Julia Martinez rapped one of her six kills to extend Manteca’s early lead to 23-13.

 Led by sophomore middle blocker Allison Walljasper, the Timberwolves (1-3, 3-5) clawed their way back and scored eight of the next nine points. Walljasper, who led all players with seven kills, accounted for four of those points at the net.

Manteca finally put it away with kills from Brittina Burch and Myklyn Balmut, who swatted down clincher.

Manteca has been at its best this season when the offense is productive, which was the case Tuesday. Morris posted 22 assists while mixing up the attack to keep Sierra’s defense off balance and create one-on-one outside-hitting opportunities.

Balmut and Martinez each had six kills, Erin Kennedy finished with five and Burch added four.

“It’s easier for me to know that no matter where I go they’re always going to be able to hit it,” Morris said. “I know that they have my back. Even if I do have a bad set they can still put it away.”

That’s the type of play the Buffaloes hope to take into their next assignment: a trip to the foothills to face contending Sonora Thursday.  Sierra, which has dropped four of its last five, looks to reverse its recent struggles at Weston Ranch.


Manteca 2, Sierra 0

The host Buffaloes swept, but both games were competitive (25-23, 26-24).

McKenna Balmut led the way with six kills, nine digs and three aces. Setter Jessica Hasal pitched in four kills to go with six assists, and Jessy Talarico finished with six digs. Jamie Justice came through with a big block that clinched Game 1 for the Buffs.

Sierra was highlighted by Morgan Willis’ four kills and two blocks. Fabiola Lopez contributed three aces.


Sierra 2, Manteca 0

Sierra squeaked out a 26-24 win in the opening game before cruising 25-13 in the second.

Tayler Moss had six digs and two aces to pace the Timberwolves, and Megan DeGroot chipped in three assists.