Olivia Vezaldenos started her high school varsity career as a freshman trying to help rebuild a proud program that was used to winning.
Every year since she got better, and so did East Union.
The electric senior point guard finally earned the elusive Valley Oak League title this past winter season, the Lancers’ first since 2012, and her efforts were rewarded with a unanimous selection for MVP honors. Vezaldenos will graduate as the program’s second-ranked all-time scorer with 1,701 points.
“There are kids who want to leave their mark on their school, and she’s done that,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said. He’s also the VOL’s Coach of the Year. “She helped set the bar for East Union. It was an honor to coach her. She’s the type of player that makes you better as a coach.”
Agostini and Vezaldenos led the Lancers’ perfect run through the VOL, and with a 27-2 record they tied the program’s high mark for most wins in a season.
Vezaldenos averaged 20.4 points, 5.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds. Her point and rebound averages were tops in the league, as were her 27 made 3s and 36 percent 3-point shooting percentage. She twice eclipsed the 30-point mark against league opponents, including 38 in a 74-58 win over runner-up Manteca.
“Defenses were geared to stop her every night and she was still able to put up those kinds of numbers,” Agostini said. “Teams were putting their best players or multiple defenders on her.”
East Union freshman Donja Payne is one of just five players to make the All-VOL first team. The 6-foot-2 center averaged 11.2 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in league. Joining her are 6-2 Manteca junior forward Loretta Kakala (16.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks for the season) and Manteca junior guard Syd’Nee Fryer (12.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.2 steals). Fryer also made the All-Defensive Team.
East Union guard Ruby Daube (12.4 points, 4.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds) is a second-team selection who narrowly missed a spot on the first team. Lathrop forward Danya Phillips (7.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 steals, Manteca guard Rubel Dehal (10.3 points) and Sierra guard Kayla Wilson also made the second team.
Asia Stamps (Weston Ranch), Myani Thornton (Lathrop), Alison Edwards (Sierra), Lejla Pepic (Manteca), Elizabeth Tolbert and (Manteca) earned honorable mention. Ciara Goodwin (East Union), Vanessa Vega (Weston Ranch), Megan Westfall (Sierra) and Phillips are on the All-Defensive Team.