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Spartans record first varsity win over Weston Ranch
Weston Ranch’s Laura Ramos keeps the ball alive during Wednesday’s varsity volleyball match as the Lady Spartans of Lathrop high hosted the Cougars. Lathrop won the match 4-1 and earned their first varsity victory in school history. - photo by HIME ROMERO
LATHROP – Lathrop High School doesn’t have to look at a zero in front of its record anymore when talking about the play of their varsity volleyball team.

Despite having an all-junior squad and heading into Wednesday’s matchup with Weston Ranch carrying a 0-15 record, the Spartans jumped out to a pair of early 26-24 wins that put them more than halfway towards making program history.

And even though the Cougars managed to take the third game to prevent a sweep by an unbeaten team, they only managed to squeak by with a 26-24 victory themselves. Lathrop drove in the final stake with a 25-19 fourth set and wrap up the first match in school history.

“It looks like we finally did it tonight – we won first varsity volleyball match and it feels really good,” Lathrop head coach Angela Cuellar said. “We have worked too hard all year to be defeated, and the girls were all so excited to be able to feel like a winner for the first time this year.

“And not to mention that Weston Ranch is our cross-town rival and we lost to them in five sets earlier this year, but we were able to come out the victor tonight.”

Britney Ralios led the offensive attack for the Spartans (1-10 Valley Oak League, 1-15 overall) with six aces and four kills and also came up with 22 digs. Janel Butler served up five aces, recorded 13 kills, 23 assists, and 15 digs. Cecilia Lopez added two aces, four kills, and seven digs, while Krystal Ruiz came up big defensively with three blocks to add to her 10 kills.

Lathrop will travel to Manteca High to take on the Buffaloes on Monday, Nov. 2.

Oakdale 3, Sierra 1
OAKDALE – Despite two first close games that left the match knotted at one apiece headed into the third set, the Sierra Timberwolves simply ran out of gas as they attempted move up a game on VOL second-place squad Oakdale, dropping the crucial third match that turned out to be the difference in the night.

With scores of 23-25 and 25-21, everything appeared to be pointed at a shootout between two of the league’s perennial playoff teams. But with valuable asset Sierra Tailes back in the lineup, the rustiness and the fatigue started to show during the third set – which was essentially wrapped up when an Oakdale server recorded six straight aces to turn the tables in the Mustangs’ favor.

“There was really nothing to complain about tonight because that first game really could have gone either way,” Sierra head coach Tevani Liotard said. “You just hate those games because you never know how they’re going to turn out, and you could see the worried look on their face.

“But in that third game we came out in kind of a rusty mode and they took advantage of that and they gave it their all – balls were dropping that shouldn’t have been and when they served those six straight aces that just took the air right out of us.”

Modesty Rodriguez racked up six service points and 22 assists while Jaclyn Liotard turned in a complete game of nine kills, seven blocks, 10 digs, eight service points, and two aces. Alicia Atkins added eight kills and eight blocks, while Sierra Tailes totaled 13 service points, one ace, and seven digs.

The loss drops Sierra to 7-5 in VOL play and 12-6 overall as they get ready to turn home stretch of the league season – taking on Central Valley at home on Monday and traveling to Lathrop after that before heading into the last week of the season.

Even with the loss, Liotard thinks her girls are ready for the home stretch and a big push towards the post season.

“We’re most definitely playing well together, and even when Sierra was out our reserves stepped up and were doing a great job. They stepped it up because they had a job to do, and it’s nice to see players taking on those roles.

“We think that we can go 4-0 in our last four games, and we think we should, but in the game of volleyball you just never know what’s going to happen from one night to the next.”
—Jason Campbell