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Timberwolves remain focused for playoffs after sweeping East Union
Sierra-East Union girls volleyball
Sophia Marian gets down for the dig as Sierra teammates Jenna Dalen (4) and Ciara Castro (3) look on. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Becca Thomson scored the final point with an ace, then joined the rest of her Sierra teammates in a somewhat muted yet meaningful celebration Thursday at East Union’s Dalben Center.

The Timberwolves swept the Valley Oak League match 25-19, 25-13, 25-13, securing the first league title in the program’s near 30 years of existence.

“It’s huge,” Sierra coach Kim Ellis said. “Obviously, we have to stay focused because we still have other goals, but this is huge for Sierra. All the girls are very excited. They’ve been working extremely hard on the court and off the court. They set goals and are accomplishing them, and I couldn’t pick another group of girls that deserves this more.”

The players marked the occasion with group photos and selfies with friends and family who witnessed the historic moment. It was otherwise business as usual for this dominant Sierra side that claimed an outright share of the crown and has two more regular-season matches, first against Kimball next Tuesday at home.

“Coming in, I didn’t have these high expectations,” Sierra junior outside hitter Zoe Kossart said. “To totally defy everything is amazing. It’s really great and really fulfilling.

“We’re still focused. It’s not just about VOL, it’s also about playoffs. We have two more matches and one is our senior night, so we really want to put on a show. The other one is Manteca, our cross-town rival. We’re really determined to finish out the (regular) season strong.”

Kossart contributed five kills and seven digs to the Timberwolves (8-0 VOL, 22-4 overall). Sophia Marian led the attack with 12 kills to go with six digs. Thomson finished with 20 assists, five kills, five digs and two aces. Elaina Threet added four kills and four blocks.

East Union (0-9, 8-14), snake bit by injuries all season, came in without its top returning player Meritiana Luani. The Lancers did not back down in the early going and led for much of the opening set.

Sierra was sparked by a three-point run highlighted by Alexandra Chapman’s block and two straight kills from Marian on overpasses, tying it at 13-13. The Timberwolves broke away late with another three-point swing — a setter dump from Thomson, tip from Kossart and ace from Marian — that got them to set point.

“We sometimes start a little bit slow and it’s something that we’re working on, but East Union definitely came out strong,” Ellis said. “The thing about these girls is that they continue to work hard until the final whistle is blown.”

East Union ultimately did not have the firepower to keep up. Sierra built a 17-7 lead in the second game and didn’t let up from there. In game 3, Jenna Dalen served eight straight points to help the Timberwolves establish a 14-3 cushion.

“We were just ready to play,” EU coach Michelle Sims said of her team’s spirited start. “We worked on covering and serve receive. We had some really good rallies and served very well tonight. Sometimes we just make those small mistakes and they just keep piling up.

“Overall, my girls have done well considering the adjustments we’ve had to make.”

Mariela Navarro tallied four kills and three total blocks for East Union. Isabel Israel and Giselle Hamilton paced the back line with 12 and 10 digs, respectively. Marcella Carrenza handed out eight assists.


Junior varsity

Sierra 2, East Union 1

Cianna Leonardo accumulated 21 assists, five digs and three aces to help guide the visiting Timberwolves to a 24-26, 25-19, 15-11 come-from-behind victory.

Amaya Maciel and Jenna Cai scored eight and six kills, respectively.

Ciana Cisneros turned in four kills, three assists and four digs for East Union. Laura Montanez contributed six assists and eight digs. Isabella Rodriguez had nine service points, five of them aces, to go with six digs.



East Union 2, Sierra 1

The Lancers pulled out the 9-25, 25-23, 15-6 victory.

Elise Lozano racked up 13 service points and nine aces. Gwendolin Baker added three kills, six digs and four aces. Jocelyn Gonzalez chipped in four kills and three aces.