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Sonora wins second straight volleyball title


For The Union Democrat

DAVIS — At 10:23 p.m. late Friday night, Sonora senior Angela Gardella hit a powerful spike that nailed the hardwood on the UC Davis gym floor.

With that final point, the Sonora Wildcats became back-to-back Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Volleyball Champions. The top-ranked Wildcats swept the No. 2 Hilmar Yellowjackets in a 3-set victory (25-14, 25-8, 25-7). The win marks the second consecutive year that Sonora defeated Hilmar to become section champions.  

The Wildcats advance to the 2014 CIF State Girls Volleyball Championships and will host No. 7 Healdsburg on Tuesday at  Bud Castle Gym as the No. 2 seed in Northern California.

Sonora started out slow against the Trans Valley League champions, finding themselves down 4-2 early in the first set. 

After a strong kill by Gardella, Sonora freshman Riley Patterson helped wake up the Cats as she blocked everything that came her way, and had a devastating spike for the sixth Sonora point.

“I was really nervous before the game,” Patterson said. “But after the first few points in the first set, my nerves calmed and I was just into the game.”

“Riley has just been a fantastic addition to our team,” Sonora head coach Kim Evans said. “I know that people thought we were crazy bringing a freshman up with seven seniors and nine returning players to a venue like this.  We knew that she could play to the level that is out there.”  

Sonora football headed to section championship

The Sonora Wildcats football team defeated the Los Banos Tigers 28-14 on Friday night at Dunlavy Field in the semifinals of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships. The Wildcats will play Central Catholic on Friday at 7 p.m. at Lincoln High School in Stockton for the crown.

See full story, exclusive interviews and photographs in Monday's Union Democrat. 

CC thumps Jessup JV in home opener

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Columbia’s Ian Merzwinski (35, right) shoots a jump shot over a Willaim Jessup JV defender on Thursday at Oak Pavilion.
It’s been more than three years since Alex Kiriluk played in front of a Tuolumne County crowd.

Kiriluk, a 2011 Sonora Wildcat grad, started his first home game as a member of the Columbia College Claim Jumpers men’s basketball team, and the 6-foot-5 sophomore guard tipped the non-conference match off with a bang.

Kiriluk threw down an athletic dunk to give Columbia an immediate 2-0 lead and the Claim Jumpers never trailed the rest of the way, rolling over William Jessup JV 83-69 on Thursday night at Oak Pavilion.

“It felt great,” Kiriluk said. “It got the butterflies out for me. I was pretty nervous coming back home and playing, but I got right in and got a good dunk.”

Cats polo sophs Slater, Personious rewarded

Sonora Wildcats Josie Personius and Sammie Slater were two of the top girls’ water polo players in the Sac-Joaquin Section this season.

After leading the Wildcats to the Division II quarterfinals, Personius and Slater, both sophomores, earned second-team, All-Sac-Joaquin Section honors.

“It’s the first time we’ve had two girls to ever make the All-Section team,” said Wildcats head coach Matt Personius. “We’ve never had any sophomore on any team get any kind of recognition that way, so that was huge for us. That’s very fantastic.”

Cats blast Marysville

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora offensive lineman Colm Allan (left, at left) clears the way for Wyatt Faughnan (6) to gain a chunk of yards against Marysville on Friday at Dunlavy Field in the first round of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.
While the late-arriving crowd was still shuffling to their seats and buzzing from cheering the opening kickoff on Friday night, the Marysville Indians quickly went to work, and in mere moments, stunned the Sonora fans and the Wildcat sideline. 

Marysville quarterback Aaron Birch took the game’s third snap, went up the middle a short distance, made a 360-degree spin move to shrug off the defense, then sprinted 73 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

The deficit was the first Sonora has faced in over two months (Sept. 12, at Hilmar) and it came quickly in the first round of the Division IV football Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.

“I thought it was gonna be a tough game, a lot tougher after that,” said Wildcat senior nose guard and co-captain Lane Mierop. “They were physical when they came out tonight, but we just cranked it up a few notches, did our thing and started to hate a few people.”

Bears can’t KO Colfax, fall 42-35

COLFAX — For 48 minutes, the Summerville Bears football team played with the courage, fire and heart that every coach desires.

Summerville clawed to an early 13-point lead and quarterback Bryce Farrell threw for 221 yards and two scores while Jake Fulkerson accounted for 199 yards and three total touchdowns, but the Bears fell just short.

Farrell’s fourth-down pass to Fulkerson from the Colfax 14-yard line was knocked down with 22 seconds left in the game, and No. 7 Summerville lost 42-35 to No. 2 Colfax in the first round of the Division V Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.

“We had a spark that I haven’t seen all season,” Farrell said. “This game, we had some really, really good early play. I have to credit Colfax because they came back, and it was tough, we had huge momentum early in the game. We played amazing. We played amazing defense, amazing offense, and that’s really encouraging for next year. We can play with a very good team, a No. 2 seed in our division, and it was encouraging. I’m looking forward to the Summerville team next year. I see some great things.”

Summerville soccer wins section championship

STOCKTON — There’s a famous saying that goes, “Soccer is played with the feet, but the game is won with the heart.”

The Summerville Bears embodied that belief on Saturday, turning a 0-0 draw after regulation into a 1-0 victory over the Millennium Falcons in double overtime to capture the Division VI Sac-Joaquin Section Boys Soccer Championships at Stagg High School.

Summerville star forward Braden Anderson scored the match’s only goal in the 94th minute and the Bears clinched the first section title in program history.

“The joy I’m feeling is from all the boys, seeing them happy,” said Bears head coach Dave Reel, who took over at Summerville in 2004. “It’s their hard work that got us here, and got us through that hard game. It’s awesome. To finally bring one home to Summerville, it’s special. I’ve been there for a while. I went to school there. To give something back is special. These boys gave something back to Summerville. A little bit of pride is going to be on their wall and a lifetime of memories.”

Football playoffs: Cats advance, Bears fall just short

The Sonora Wildcats scored 56 unanswered points Friday night to defeat the visiting Marysville Knights 56-13 in the first round of the Division IV football Sac-Joaquin Section Championships while the Summerville Bears were defeated in Division V by their host Colfax 42-35.

For full story, interviews and photographs, see Monday's Union Democrat 

Wildcats defeat Knights, reach Final 4

Maggie Beck / Union Democrat Sonora’s Leah Dambacher makes a dig with support from teammate Bailey Henington on Thursday against Ripon Christian at Bud Castle Gym.
Ripon Christian entered Bud Castle Gym on Thursday night full of loud energy.

Before the teams took the floor to warmup for their second round volleyball clash in the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships, the Knights were cheering wildly for several minutes in the visiting locker room. When they hit the floor, the Knights again voiced approval and clapped after every move a teammate would make.

But then the Golden Regiment Marching Band entered the building and changed that tune.

Soon everything was drowned by drums, trumpets and tubas and Sonora fans and the Wildcats responded with a performance like the champions they are.

The Wildcats are in the final four, and one win away from their second straight appearance in the section championship game after defeating the feisty Knights 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-11). 

“I’ve never seen an atmosphere like ours,” said Wildcat head coach Kim Evans. “And it was interesting, we do a lot of quiet visualization and Ripon Christian was just in their room being so loud, almost singing for 10 minutes as we’re trying to focus. So they came out with a lot of energy. But as soon as the band walked in, you could all see them turn and look and stare … Our home court advantage is huge.”

Calaveras falls behind early, loses to Ripon 3-0

Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Calaveras outside hitter Dakota Butzler (left) rises for an attack on Thursday at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.
The Calaveras Redskins girls’ volleyball team got off to a slow start in the quarterfinals of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships and could never fully recover.

No. 3 Calaveras dropped its first two sets and lost a nail-biter in the third to fall 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-23) against the No. 6 Ripon Indians on Thursday night at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.

“We were just kind of out of kink,” Redskins head coach Pam DiBasilio said. “There was a hitch in the beginning today. We had a lot more errors than we typically do, especially in the first two games. We were just reacting to the ball instead of reading and playing it tonight, unfortunately. But we brought it back in the third game and started doing our thing.”

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