There is no denying the Sonora Wildcats quest for their eighth straight Valley Oak League title.
Maggie Beck / Union Democrat. Sonora's Savannah Lawrence returns a serve.
The Wildcats dominated their long-time rival in excruciating fashion, knocking off Oakdale 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-14) in front of a spirited home crowd on Wednesday at Bud Castle Gym.
“It was a really great game,” junior outside hitter Shannon Friend said. “We had a goal to beat them in three, and we came out and showed them that it was our home court and we were there to play and win.”
With the victory, the Wildcats are now standing alone in first place in the VOL with an unblemished 7-0 record and control their own destiny for an outright league championship.
Friend was stellar in front of net. She powered 11 kills to give the Wildcats an attacking and imposing presence up top. Outside hitter and middle blocker Savannah Lawrence smashed nine and junior outside hitter Angela Gardella added seven.
“We came out and completely dominated,” Friend said. “We showed them that we were ready to play. I think it’s great. In practice, we always worked hard.”
In the first set, Oakdale came out strong to test Sonora, but with the home crowd on the Wildcat’s side, their rally never materialized to anything threatening.
“We really went out there and did what we knew how to do and had a great time doing it,” Wildcat senior Ali Pelfrey said. “It was really awesome for us. It’s amazing. It’s the best feeling to know that you’re going to have that huge crowd come out. Just to feel that excitement in the room with everyone yelling. It’s just a rush. Our team stayed really calm and worked together really well to beat them in three.”
With the Wildcats taking set one, Oakdale made some adjustments to counter Sonora’s strong attack; however, the Wildcats were able to maintain their poise and continue their annihilation.
“My girls are playing with a lot of confidence, and overall, we have a young team but they are a very experienced group,” Wildcat head coach Kim Evans said. “Set three, we came out and got off to a quick start and built an 8-1 lead, and we just had too many weapons tonight. Oakdale was not able to adjust to our multifaceted attack. It was a big win for our program because they are a very good team.”
With setter Bella Bergamaschi playing solid all around, she finished with 28 assists. Kelsie Evans had two and Lawrence one.
Also for Lawrence, she generated a team-high 13 digs, and Bailey Henington and Bergamaschi both had nine each.
Wildcat Kiana Pisula stonewalled two block assists. Lawerence added a solo and assisted block, and Friend had a solo block in stopping Oakdale’s offensive attack.
“They never got on too many streaks to get points,” Pelfrey said. “That was a big deal for us. Just being able to have that trust all together and be a family is just a great feeling. To not be nervous or scared and be able to do what we know we can do, it’s amazing.”
Lawerence was also impressive at the serving line with two aces. Maria Chacon, Henington and Pisula all had one.
The Wildcats will continue VOL play when they face Sierra on Monday.
“It builds a lot of confidence,” Friend said. “To know that we worked that hard and beat them and achieved our goals, it’s just so fulfilling. I think it will give us more confidence of beating them the next time.”