Trailing host Sonora High two games to none on Nov. 2, Oakdale’s varsity volleyball team was in dire need of some big rallies to upend the previously unbeaten Wildcats and claim a piece of the Valley Oak League title.
And rally they did.
Oakdale netters outscored Sonora 65-49 in the final three games to claim a 3-2 come-from-behind thriller in Wildcat territory.
The win granted Oakdale a co-VOL championship and propelled the team to a No. 4 seed in the Division III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Oakdale hosted No. 13 seed, Whitney, on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time.
“I can’t tell you what a great feeling that was to come out with a win up at Sonora,” coach Shelli Ponce said. “Especially being down by two games and coming back with the win.”
Sonora kills gave the Wildcats 25-15, 25-20 wins over Oakdale in the first two games of the contest, but Oakdale bounced back with consecutive 25-17, 25-20, 15-12 victories to win the match.
Taylor Harper sparked the rally in game three with seven straight service points for a 13-4 lead. Oakdale saw nine combined kills in the game after big net play from Justina Keith, Kaitlin Van Ryn, McKenzie Willett and Domi Powell.
Isabel Hoy added nine points in game four and watched setter Jackee Lee pull up seven digs in the five-point win.
The game five finale swung Oakdale’s way after nine assists, a kill, five digs and three points from Lee.
“This win really was a team effort,” Ponce said. “Everyone contributed to this great win.”
Keith led hitters with 16 kills in the contest while Lee added 36 assists, 13 points and 25 digs in a heroic senior effort. Harper (11 digs, 14 points), Hoy (10 points, six digs), Van Ryn (11 kills, six points) and Willet (nine points, seven kills) also finished with terrific numbers.
Ponce said she believes Oakdale’s No. 4 seed in the D-III bracket puts the Mustangs in good position to make it to the Nov. 18 SJS title match at UC Davis. The Mustangs (16-4) have the potential to host consecutive playoff games before a likely Nov. 16 showdown with No. 1 seed, Vanden (17-3) in the semi-finals.
“I really feel that we are going to see a couple of upsets in our section this year,” Ponce said. “It will be interesting to watch.”
Oakdale underclassmen had an incredible season this year as well. The Junior Varsity team went undefeated in league play to claim a one-sided VOL title, while the Mustang freshmen finished second in the league standings after big league wins.