GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Cougars Put Scare into Oakdale

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Girls volleyball was back on the floor Monday, and although the Cougars had impressive beginnings in all three games, the visiting Oakdale Mustangs swept the Cougars at home, 25-15, 25-18, 25-17.

The Cougars (1-1 in the Valley Oak League and 2-2 overall) have been dealing with an inconsistent schedule, making it challenging for head coach Senecia Patten’s squad to gain any consistent ground in developing and improving. Of the 11 games scheduled (scrimmages included), the Cougars have managed to get on the court four times, including last Monday’s match against Oakdale. Losing out seven times to play isn’t ideal for building a program and creating momentum. However, the Cougars persevered and gave the Mustangs (3-1 in the Valley Oak League and 4-2 overall) some great competition and put a few scares into the heavily favored and very experienced Mustang club.

“It was a tough loss,” Patten said. “Oakdale is a great team. Their offense is impeccable.”

In all three games, the Cougars matched the Mustangs point for point early to mid-match. In game one, Weston Ranch battled back to lead 9-5 after trailing early 3-1. After Oakdale retook the lead, the Cougars forced a tie at 14. But Oakdale’s experience and Weston Ranch’s lack of game experience helped the Mustangs prevail as they rattled off 11 of the final 12 points to close it out 25-15.

“Their outside hitters really got our back row defenders moving their feet,” Patten said. “The first set was a bit shaky as our Libero, Valeria Aguila, struggled a bit to adjust to Oakdale’s strong hits.”

Game two of the evening moved along similar to the first. Both teams traded points up to the fifteenth point, and, again, Oakdale’s experience pushed them out to a six-point lead (22-16). The Cougars were able to extend the match a little longer this time but fell 25-18.

“The second set we did make a come back. Our back-row defenders played much stronger. Libero Valeria Aguila and Defensive Specialist Eleanor Allieu worked together to begin to absorb Oakdale’s hits. Once we got a solid pass, we could get the ball to our Middle Hitters, Siyah Grigsby and Jannelle Ico,” Patten said.

Grigsby’s presence at the net forced Oakdale to redirect their offense a few times. Her big blocks and movement helped earn the Cougars a few side-outs and more scoring chances with their serves.

Game three was close early, but the Mustangs used a 12 point run and a 5 point run to put the Mustangs at match point 24-10. Serving match point, the Cougars broke the serve and got the ball back trailing 24-10. After a fantastic run of their own (7 straight points), the Cougars found themselves down 24-17. They were energized. The rally energized the crowd, and Oakdale looked a bit nervous. However, the rally fell short, and the Mustangs closed out game 3 25-17.

It was a great effort from the understaffed and visually outmatched Cougars and one that coach Patten was very proud to witness.

“We were short a couple of players that night,” Patten said. “Ico, originally our standout outside hitter, stepped in as a middle hitter and helped the team with a couple of kills and a list of aces. Grigsby came in handy, stopping a few of Oakdale’s returns with a block, giving us a needed lift. Penny Hunt, excited to step in as an outside hitter, stood her ground, leading the team with a couple of kills and aces as well.”

The Cougars had a BYE Wednesday and will return to action on September 20th at Kimball High School of Tracy.

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