The Sonora Wildcats beat Harker, of San Jose, 3-1 (23-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-16) on Saturday in front of a packed Bud Castle Gym to reach the NorCal final of the Division IV CIF State Volleyball Championships for the second year in a row.
Sonora, the No. 2 seed in the NorCal bracket, will travel to face top ranked Notre Dame, of Belmont, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner will play for the state championship.
The Sonora Wildcats football team lost 42-35 on Friday to Central Catholic in the final of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships at Lincoln High School in Stockton.
For full story, interviews and photographs, see Monday's Union Democrat.
Rob Hoyt’s Columbia College men’s basketball team may be one of the top squads in the state.
Well, at least according to the latest California Community Colleges Men’s Basketball Coaches Association State Poll that was released on Tuesday.
Columbia (4-1) is ranked 10th in the entire state and fifth in Northern California after two weeks of play.
“Well, it’s good for the guys and the community,” Hoyt said. “It’s still a little early to really get a good grasp of all the teams, but it’s the coaches poll, and they felt we’re deserving of it. But it’s (the ranking) good. It was part of the plan going in. Getting that respect was part of turning this program around and getting that recognition to help get the community back supporting us again. It’s a step in the right direction.”
After falling in the semifinals of the 2013 CIF State Girls’ Volleyball Championships, all Sonora head coach Kim Evans and the Wildcats wanted was another shot at California glory.
Jesse Jones / Union Democrat Sonora senior Leah Dambacher keeps the play alive during the Wildcats first-round victory against Healdsburg in the CIF State Girls’ Volleyball Championships on Tuesday night at Bud Castle Gym.
Sonora gave itself that opportunity when the Wildcats coasted through Mother Lode League play with a perfect 12-0 record without yielding a single set to advance to the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
In the postseason, Sonora cruised with complete and dominating 3-0 sweeps of Hughson, Ripon Christian, Escalon and Hilmar to capture the section crown.
And then on one of the biggest stages, in the first round of the State playoffs on Tuesday behind a balanced offensive attack, No. 2 Sonora topped No. 7 Healdsburg 3-0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-21) in front of a near-packed house at Bud Castle Gym.
The Wildcats will now move on to the quarterfinals and host No. 3 Harker this Saturday.
“It’s almost kind of an incredible feeling,” Evans said of earning a State playoff victory. “You know going in that it’s gonna be tough, and then once you get here, you see the size of them, the pace of them, the way they play defense, and it’s just kind of a reminder that we need to play our best if we want to keep moving forward.”
Sonora used its extreme brand of mountain football on Friday to pound Los Banos into submission and earn a shot a section superiority.
Jesse Jones/ Union Democrat Sonora fullback Serge Kiriluk (above, 3) attempts to break Los Banos defender Loggan Pimentel’s tackle during Friday’s semifinal game at Dunlavy Field.
Fullback Serge Kiriluk rushed for 191 yards and three touchdowns to lead the No. 2 seed Wildcats over the No. 3 Tigers 28-14 in the semifinals of the Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section Championships at Dunlavy Field.
Sonora will play top-ranked, and two-time defending state champion, Central Catholic, and its head coach Roger Canepa, in what will be blood vs. blood for the crown this coming Friday at 7 p.m. at Lincoln High School in Stockton.
“I finally get a shot at my uncle Roger and that’s all I’ve wanted in my life,” said Kiriluk when asked what was going through his mind right after the Cats claimed victory. “Every year we play them in summer camp and we play them probably tougher than any team they’ve ever faced. And we’ve never gotten to play a full game against them and I think a lot of these guys are excited and ready to go.”
“I mean he’s my uncle and everything, but I wanna kick his you know what right now,” said Wildcat sophomore linebacker Bradley Canepa.
By GUY DOSSI
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.”
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.
It’s been more than three years since Alex Kiriluk played in front of a Tuolumne County crowd.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”