Monica King wanted to be the one to end it, and she did so emphatically.
She blasted a kill through the block of Julia Martinez and Abigail Behler, and her East Union Lancers escaped Manteca High’s Winter Gym with a hard-earned five-set victory (27-25, 29-31, 25-20, 17-25, 15-12) on Monday.
“I was hoping she’d set me,” the 5-foot-5 outside hitter said. “I just knew it had to be the point — I had to kill it. They beat us last time in our own gym, so we had to win this.”
Both teams needed the win. East Union (3-6 Valley Oak League, 6-9 overall) entered enemy territory hoping to end a five-match slide. Manteca (2-6, 5-8) dropped its fourth straight.
It’s no surprise that this crosstown contest went the distance — it is the fifth East Union-Manteca match in a row that was decided in a fifth game. That’s the case for six out of their last eight meetings since 2009.
“We just had too many errors hitting-wise, especially in the end,” said Manteca coach Tim Horning. “The fans got what they want — it was a typical East Union-Manteca rivalry match, unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
King led all players with 11 kills, and Alexis Steele chipped in eight for the Lancers. Setter Courtney Posz finished with 13 assists to go with three aces, while Jami Arceo and Carolina Gutierrez had six digs apiece.
East Union managed to prevail despite struggling with tough serves from Manteca’s Beth Aschenbrenner, who turned in 10 aces. Martinez paced the Manteca attack with 10 kills, and Behler recorded two blocks. Ashley Gase set 27 assists.
Early indications were that the match was likely to go five. East Union climbed out of a 1-7 hole in the opening set, and it was King who punctuated the comeback with two consecutive kills for points 26 and 27.
The Lancers were in command in the second stanza, staking a 21-16 lead on Kelly Crawford’s ace. But the Buffaloes bounced back thanks to the clutch serving of Aschenbrenner, who fired three straight aces at one point to tie it at 22-22. Gase’s kill set up game point, and a double hit on an East Union player finally ended it, 31-29.
“I felt they stole that from us,” said EU coach Rich Posz. “We should have been out of here in three because we won the next one. After (losing the second set) I told them that we can’t let that bother us, just move forward. We have the tendency to let one game affect us for the next one.”
After splitting the next two sets, it was nip and tuck to start the fifth until East Union’s Lauren Terry and Alex Scopas’ combined block knotted the score at 8-all. That gave the Lancers one last momentum push to end it, while Manteca aided their cause with two hitting errors.
“We were not aggressive enough as far as hitting goes, we settled for a lot of tips,” Horning said. “I don’t know if it was (lack of) confidence, but the passing was there tonight. We had opportunities, we just weren’t taking advantage of them.”
East Union 2, Manteca 0
The Pages improved to 8-1 in the VOL with their 25-15, 25-16 victory.
Sam Owen tallied four aces, and Sarah Terry contributed three digs for EU.