Thursday’s three-game loss to visiting Union Mine High eliminated Oakdale’s varsity volleyball team from the Division III playoffs, representing the final prep contest of a spectacular four-year career for all-time Valley Oak League assists leader, Jackee Lee.
The Mustang senior, responsible for an astounding 2,172 career assists, led her team to a 3-1 win over Whitney on Nov. 9, in the postseason’s opening round.
The win propelled fourth-seeded Oakdale to a D-III quarterfinal match with No. 5 seed, Union Mine. The Diamondbacks (26-2-1) carried a co-Sierra Valley League title into a 3-0 rout of East Union on Nov. 9, and dispatched Oakdale after 16-25, 15-25, 16-25 scores on Thursday.
“I felt like they were a beatable team, but they found open spots and sent some tips right over our blockers,” Oakdale coach Shelli Ponce said. “I think we played well but they just played better.”
League coaches selected Lee as the 2010 Valley Oak League MVP, joining a list of three other Lady Mustangs to come away with first team honors. Juniors McKenzie Willet, Domi Powell and Justina Keith also reached all league status.
Ponce will be sad to see Lee, libero Taylor Harper, Kaily Fisicaro and Kelsey Clark depart via graduation, but the four-year Mustang setter will be especially difficult to replace.
Lee nabbed 250 service points and 66 aces (both team highs) in 2010. She pulled up 88 digs and landed 64 kills as well.
“Those will be some big shoes to fill,” Ponce said. “What made this year even sweeter for Jackie, as well as the other seniors, was to pocket a VOL championship with that last league match in Sonora.”
Oakdale’s 3-2 thriller over the host Wildcats propelled the team to a fourth seeded showdown with No. 13 Whitney last week. Oakdale won the first game in a 25-14 rout, but slipped to a disastrous 8-25 second game before rebounding with 25-17, 25-18 wins to close the contest in 3-1 fashion.
Lee had 32 assists with nine points in the win. Willet added 12 kills, nine digs and 10 points while sophomore pull-ups Kaitlin VanRyn and Kelsey McIntyre each got into the match for some postseason contributions.
It’s the type of experience that Ponce feels will make Oakdale tough for several years.
“It was a good eye-opener for them to see blockers at the varsity level in the playoffs like that,” Ponce said. “This way they can see how they need to adjust to that quickness and skill level.”
Ponce, a 16-year Oakdale instructor and 10-year varsity head coach, saw her team play to a 17-5 overall record and 13-1 showing in the VOL (co-champions) this year.
“I really enjoyed the season with the girls, who all seemed to be unified as a team,” Ponce said. “It’s a very coachable, very lovable group.”