Back from an infection that kept her out of Sierra’s three previous Valley Oak League matches, 6-foot-1 middle blocker Allie Walljasper was understandably wearing down during the Timberwolves’ five-set marathon against visiting Weston Ranch Thursday.
“I was just trying to push through (the fatigue) for the team,” she said.
She did that and more in a 16-25, 25-19, 10-25, 25-23, 15-10 win, Sierra’s first of the season in VOL play.
Walljasper emphatically closed out the tightly-contested fourth game with a kill to extend the match, and her solo stuff toward the end of the final set extended the Timberwolves’ lead to 12-10 and provided more than enough momentum to end it.
Sarah Gullett served the final five points, including an ace, of the match.
“A win is always great, especially the first one,” said Sierra coach Trinity Johnson. “They’re finally coming together as a team. I think this is a great morale booster for them, so hopefully this leads into more great play starting next week.”
Setter Gabby Olmo led Sierra (1-4, 2-5 overall) with 17 assists, 15 digs, three aces and two kills. Gianna Lenoci added 22 dogs and two aces. Valerie Nestor came up big with six blocks, while fellow middle blocker Walljasper finished with four kills and 14 digs.
“It was really fun,” Walljasper said. “It felt great to feel like I was part of the team again. I just wanted to contribute and help the team get that first league win.”
The fourth game was the turning point for the Timberwolves.
Weston Ranch (2-4, 5-7) was coming off a dominant third-game effort in which it never trailed. The Cougars overcame a slow start in the fourth, at one point scoring seven straight to lead 11-8. Five of those points were registered on kills from Candisse Griffin and Melanie Amen, who led all players with 11 kills and four aces.
Later, Sherilyn Lozano put Weston Ranch in good position to close it out with a well-placed tip that made it 22-19.
Sierra took over from there. Olmo’s kill knotted it at 23-all, and Weston Ranch failed to return the next serve. After a Weston Ranch timeout, Walljasper delivered her thudding spike.
“We struggle with being consistent,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “Our talk (after the match) was about believing in themselves. We have every tool possible to compete in our league, but if we can’t be consistent and don’t trust each other we’re going to keep struggling.”
Setter Aolini Etu (29 assists) and Taylor Holiday (three blocks) both turned in solid performances along with Amen.
“Taylor Holiday played a great game, and I think that was the best Melanie has hit the ball,” Bauer said. “But when it came time to get that big rally to put it away we couldn’t get it done.”
Weston Ranch 2, Sierra 1
Morgan Willis contributed five digs and two kills, while Kristen Maestretti turned in three assists and a kill for Sierra.
Weston Ranch ended up winning 22-25, 25-23, 15-12.
Weston Ranch 2, Sierra 1
The Cougars battled back to steal the match in three 21-25, 25-23, 15-11.
Sierra was led by Cecilia Salcedo’s seven assists, three kills and three aces. Carolina Ortega served eight aces, and Annikka Berg chipped in two assists and a kill.