The ritual of Oakdale and Sonora volleyball meetings at the end of October are about as big a tradition as Halloween.
It will be a trick or treat for Lady Mustang athletes on Friday as Oakdale visits the host Wildcats for a chance to snare sole possession of the Valley Oak League title with a road victory or share co-championship honors with a loss.
Oakdale (11-0) beat Sonora (10-1) in five games on Oct. 3, establishing the setting for a rematch in the foothills for the conference crown and a higher postseason seed.
Sonora beat Oakdale during tournament play in the preseason, but allowed late kills that saw Oakdale take a 16-14 game-five victory in Oakdale during conference action.
The Lady Mustangs went on to preserve their league lead with four more wins, including a 3-0 rout of Kimball on Oct. 17. Hayley McIntyre had 11 kills and 10 service points in the win while Kellie Gratigny had 10 assists. Kaitlin Van Ryn added 14 points and five kills while Madison Ault (nine digs) and Kelsey McIntyre (nine points) also stood out.
The Sonora game will go a long way to decide Oakdale’s position in the Division III playoff bracket. It’s a new-look playoff system that separates 30 leagues into six brackets with most leagues landing three automatic qualifiers and additional entries that secure a .500 winning percentage in league.
The pairing will force teams to scatter across brackets of all sizes in the divisions (based on enrollment). With 1,613 students, Oakdale will be one of the largest possible schools in DIII (cut-off is 1,650).