Shelli Ponce and the Lady Mustang volleyball players want you there.
“This is a big one,” varsity coach Ponce said of the Lady Mustangs’ Nov. 4 home rematch with Sonora. “Last game for our six seniors and if we can beat them we can possibly get in the top four of section playoffs…senior night always seems to bring out a big crowd from the community, hoping to have that support as well.”
Sonora rides down the highway for the season ending rivalry game with Oakdale sporting a 22-6 record, with an undefeated mark in league and having handed the 23-5 Mustangs their only league loss on Oct. 9 in Sonora where the Wildcats are 9-0. But since the setback, the Mustangs have held pace in the Valley Oak League standings with an 11-1 record and earned quality wins over playoff bound teams from the Sierra Delta League and beyond.
“Sonora has some great hitters – we know what to prepare for,” Ponce said. “We’ve been working on good blocks, defensive skills and being in control of the game.”
If the Mustangs defeat Sonora, they will not only earn a VOL co-title but likely receive a top-four seed in sections due to strong wins in pre-season and recent tournament play. Since the loss to the Wildcats, the Mustangs ripped off league wins against Lathrop, Sierra, Kimball, East Union and Weston Ranch and tournament victories over Bradshaw Christian, Vacaville and Vacaville Christian respectively. During the loss at Sonora in October, the Mustangs were on the defensive early on and Sonora controlled the game winning 3-0 by scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-14.
“The last couple weeks in tournament play has allowed our girls to play at an even higher level,” Ponce said. “Since the Sonora loss we reiterated to the girls that they can be in control of a game and how it feels to be in control and to know the difference ... we’re ready for Nov. 4.”
Ponce applauded the court sense of senior Kaitlin Van Ryn, who has been with the varsity since she was a freshman and played her share of positions with the Mustangs.
“She knows how to put the ball away hard and where to put it where her opponents are not,” Ponce said. “She’s great defensively from the back row.”
Seniors Brittany Carpenter, Kyla Lewis, and Hannah Butler also drew mention from Ponce for recent solid play and senior setter Christina Cobarruvias was praised for her all-around play, court presence and the positive effect she has on her teammates.
“Libero Leah Burchell (senior) plays a huge role,” Ponce added. “She’s the one that sets up our offense with her passes off first contact with the ball.”
Sac Joaquin Section playoff seedings don’t get announced until Wednesday, Nov. 6. All top 8 seeds host games for the first three rounds of the playoffs and all five divisions play their championship game at the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship at U.C. Davis in Sacramento. Oakdale has made the finals twice in the last eight years; in 2006 and 2008 – losing to St. Mary’s of Stockton on both occasions.