Oakdale isn’t going to relinquish its crown that easily.
The Valley Oak League’s three-time defending champion exacted revenge against Manteca at Winter Gymnasium on Monday, using a spirited effort to knock off the Buffaloes 16-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-21, 15-10 and force a two-way share for the top spot in the standings with five matches remaining.
“They’re not just motivated to play Manteca,” Oakdale coach Heather Gonzales said. “In the very beginning of VOL, we started out real slow, but I think finding each other’s trust and self-confidence was key for us. Yes, they wanted to prove to them they were the better team, but they want to show everyone just how hard they’ve been working.”
Manteca (8-1 VOL, 17-4 overall) beat the Mustangs (8-1, 10-7) in four games on Oct. 13, and its believed to be its first win over them since 1999. The Buffaloes, who swept all other VOL opponents in the first half of league, are still set up capture their first championship since 1991, but there is still much work to be done.
“Every night’s a challenge,” Manteca coach Kevin Bolding said. “We have to come in ready. They were a good team and we knew it coming in, they just seemed to be a little bit more ready than we were.
“Hopefully this wakes us up a little bit. When you go through the first half (of league) without losing everybody is coming for you. We have to move on.”
Oakdale overcame a sluggish first game in which it never led and dominated the second. Abigail Matoso got the Mustangs going with three straight kills, and the Mustangs rolled to a 7-1 lead
Manteca was unable to keep the momentum after taking Game 3 and starting out the fourth set with a 5-1 advantage. In one key moment, Oakdale’s Jocelyn Burke came up with a diving dig but the ball sailed softly over the net. The Manteca defense converged on the overpass but let it drop for a pivotal Oakdale point that gave it a 20-17 lead. Bolding called a timeout in an effort to refocus his players, but it was all Oakdale from there.
Matoso later sealed the fourth set for the Mustangs with yet another kill.
“Like I told them, you guys work all year for these kinds of games and to play for those kind of points, and you stand and let it drop?” Bolding said. “You have to get that. That was a big point for them.”
Rhiannon Genilla (15 kills, 11 service points) delivered a scoring spike to open the fifth game for Manteca, but it proved to be the team’s final lead of the match. Oakdale rallied for the next four points and never looked back.
Payton Reis (10 kills), Kacy Bolding (10 digs, 12 assists), Kaitlyn Morenzone (eight kills, 14 assists, three aces) and Emma Kadillak (15 digs, 13 service points) led the Buffaloes.
“We probably did a few things to help them out, and they really didn’t need any help,” Bolding said. “We were kind of up and down. Take nothing away from them, they played well when they had to. We didn’t pass as well as we could have and that’s what hurt us. Everything works off of our passing and defense, and tonight our points came a little bit harder.
“We had people who played well, they just seemed to do it at different times,” he added. “It wasn’t like we were all doing it at the same time, so that’s what kind of made it tough.”
Manteca 2, Oakdale 0
Sydnee Navarro tallied 13 assists and three aces, as the Buffaloes (6-3, 13-5) swept, 25-15, 25-14.
Abi Arias contributed four kills and eight digs. Julia Moreno hammered out four kills, and RaeLene Finley had three kills and two blocks.