Oakdale High’s varsity volleyball team saw some of the stiffest competition both California and Nevada has to offer in the 36-team High Sierra Invitational in Reno over the weekend.
Oakdale went 3-4 in seven matches at the event.
In Friday’s pool play, the Mustangs dropped a 1-2 tally to Paradise before ousting Madera in consecutive hard-fought games. The Coyotes, a perennial Division II Central Section II power (29-9 last year), forced Oakdale to a thrilling 37-35 victory in the first game and a 25-22 Mustang win in the second.
The Mustangs closed Friday’s pool play with a three-game loss to McQueen, and bounced back with consecutive Saturday wins over Santa Clara (25-15, 25-15) and Woodcreek (25-18, 25-20). Stalwart Nevada programs Reno and Carson grabbed two-game wins to close Oakdale’s tournament.
“It was a good tournament where we saw a lot of great teams and a lot of good talent,” Oakdale coach Shelli Ponce said. “Being in this tournament allowed us to see the adjustments to be made.”
Ponce said returning All League setter Jackee Lee was in superb form both at the net and from beyond the service line. She also highlighted the stellar play of blocker Justina Keith, whose big hits and serves propelled the team past some early deficits.
Oakdale was reeling from a 3-2 loss to Escalon on Thursday, after 25-18 and 25-22 victories set up the Cougars for a startling comeback and 22-25, 20-25, 8-15 Mustang defeats to close the match.
Keith delivered 11 kills in that contest while Lee added nine kills, 24 service points (eight aces) and 19 assists. Sara Peterson (14 assists), Kelsey Clark and Domi Powell combined for another 37 points. Taylor Harper added 13 digs and seven points.
“This is a great team, and they already have the unity they need,” Ponce said. “They have molded together really well as a team, and they have a lot of good potential.”
Oakdale hosts Pitman today at 6 p.m.
The JV Lady Mustangs won six consecutive matches against large school programs at the Carmichael Tournament this weekend, snaring championship honors in the tournament with a 15-12 third game win over Bishop O’Dowd on Saturday.
“I am so proud of this team,” Oakdale coach Breann Davi said. “We saw a lot of schools we would usually never see, and they stepped in and pushed it.”
Oakdale opened with wins over Del Campo and Rio Linda, before ousting Pleasant Grove in a tight 19-17 third game. The team beat El Camino in bracket play after a 26-24 second game and made the finals after a winning 16-13 third game over Granite Bay.
Kellie Gratigny recorded 28 aces and 23 digs in tournament play with just one defensive error across six busy games. Kaitlin Van Ryn added 43 digs from the back row with 18 kills while Kesley McIntyre sent home 25 kills from the net. Kim Russel (18 kills) and Brittany Carpenter (15 kills) also played well up front.
Oakdale’s junior varsity hitters saw plenty of success at the net in several kill attempts. Davi saw McIntyre convert .461 percent of her kill attempts while Van Ryn (.364) and Carpenter (.277) also had sterling percentages from the net.
The JV girls host Pitman today at 5 p.m.
Oakdale’s youngest prep volleyball girls are off to the right start after back-to-back two-game routs of Buhach Colony and Escalon. The team snagged seven aces, two kills and 12 digs in their win over the Thunder, and added 16 aces, three digs and 10 kills against the Cougars.
Jessica Shatswell came up with four kills against Escalon, while Sabrina Franciosa nabbed eight aces and three digs. Hannah Butler and Leah Burchell cane through with great sets and serve-receive passes.
“We went back in the gym after Buhach and worked on hitting placement, which helped us against Escalon to accomplish the win,” Oakdale coach Dana Hernandez said. “(I am) looking forward to a season of continuous improvement from the freshman team.”