LATHROP — Things are starting to shape up in the new-look Western Athletic Conference and this much is already clear: Beyer is the club that all others will be chasing.
“They’re definitely a powerhouse team,” Lathrop coach Heather Anderson said.
She and the Spartans got their first look at the battle-tested Patriots on Thursday. Beyer suited up just seven players but overpowered Lathrop in four games, 25-12, 18-25, 25-13, 25-19.
Spearheaded by impressive 6-foot-1 sophomore outside hitter Olivia Keller, Beyer (3-0, 11-5 overall) — the runner-up in the now-defunct Modesto Metro Conference last season — delivered an early statement and led by as much as 14 points in the opening set.
“I think we were a little nervous,” Lathrop outside hitter Jahsita Fa’alii said. “We were expecting a good challenge and they gave us a good run, but we’ll know next time what to look for. Beyer is a very tall team and good competition for us.”
It’s competition that the Spartans (2-1, 5-3), who were riding a four-match winning streak, hadn’t seen yet this season. To their credit, they went toe-to-toe with the Patriots and trailed only once in the second set.
Fa’alii ignited Lathrop’s Game 2 bounce-back, scorching a few thunderous kills to get the partisan crowd into it. She tallied six of her team-high 16 kills in the set while adding an ace. Karina Chavez (28 assists) nailed down the final point with a tip.
“I think we needed to settle in,” Anderson said. “We started out really slow because we haven’t been challenged in our last few matches, so we kind of had to wake up a little bit.
“We came out with bad energy and really flat and rose to the occasion from there. We didn’t want to go down 3-0, so we just fought back in the second set and showed them what we’re capable of.”
The Spartans could not sustain their strong play, while Beyer re-established its early dominance for the remainder of the match. Middle blocker Emily Garcia-Cropper, setter Emma Gonzalez and outside hitter Camryn Wong also stood out for the Patriots.
Jordan Corner had eight kills and four aces for Lathrop, and Avleen Kaur contributed four kills.
“They have some really tough hitters and No. 8 (Keller) is phenomenal,” Anderson said. “We knew they were a good team, and getting to see them I think we were a little intimidated early on. I think we can hang with them if we play to our potential.
“The WAC is such an unfamiliar situation,” she added. “We didn’t know what anyone was capable of and now we saw what they’re able to do. We’re looking forward to that next match, but of course every match in between we’re taking one game at a time.”
Lathrop 2, Beyer 0
The Spartans (3-0, 5-3) remain undefeated in the WAC after their 25-13, 25-22 win.
Krystle Sakay (five kills, two aces), Ke’mya Barnett (three kills) and Hailey Hunter (eight assists, three aces) keyed the victory.
Beyer 2, Lathrop 0
Beyer prevailed, 25-19, 25-16.
Lathrop (1-2, 2-5) was paced by Isabella Gomez’s three kills, Natalie Sayasane’s four assists and Thracylie Acoba’s three aces and six digs.