Sonora lances East Union to claim title share

By Bill Rozak / The Union Democrat

Sonora Wildcats Shannon Friend (11), Ali Pelfrey (4), Savannah Lawrence (right), Bella Bergamaschi (6) and Kiana Pisula (9) celebrate a pointon Wednesdayat Bud Castle Gym. Sonora's Leah Dambacher (below) receives a serve.

A bouquet of flowers was handed out to the Sonora Wildcat volleyball seniors Ali Pelfrey and Maria Chaconon Wednesdaynight at Bud Castle Gym.

As a courtesy and something she does every year, Wildcat head coach Kim Evans handed out flowers to seniors playing for the opposing team, this year East Union.

It's a nice gesture, and just maybe those flowers given to the Lancers will help soften the blow of the thumping they received.

Sonora methodically, and quietly, dismantled the Lancers 3-0 (25-15, 25-10, 25-9) to win its 13th straight Valley Oak League game without a loss.

And, oh yeah, clinch at least a share of the VOL championship for the eighth straight season. A topic not one Wildcat mentioned post game.

"I never talked to the girls today about it," Evans said. "This year, we're kind of keeping it low key. We've got some very high goals and this was a step in the right direction."

The match was competitive through the first 16 points (8-8). That's when Pelfrey stepped to the service line. Pelfrey, who co-captained the team with Chacon and also sang the national anthem pre game, stayed on that service line for 10 straight points. She had three aces and a few that weren't returned and was basically a pain for East Union.

And then, as if a Lancer fan decided enough was enough, half the lights went out inside the gym.

After a 10-minute delay, play resumed, but the service-point streak ended with Sonora up 18-8.

"That was awesome for me," Pelfrey said. "I had those two short serves that worked and I don't usually serve short. To have that run was just an amazing feeling. That's something when you go back there and tell yourself, 'Don't smile so much. You don't want to show how excited you are.' I felt like I served almost the whole game."

"Ali took them out of the game," Evans said. "She's always been a good server and she was in the zone. She popped a little short one in there and did fantastic. I'm very proud of her."

In Games 2 and 3, Sonora had complete control.

It was a setting and hitting clinic by Wildcats Bella Bergamaschi and Shannon Friend. Bergamaschi would perfectly place the ball and Friend would splinter the floor with a spike. Friend had a game-high 14 kills and Bergamaschi had 24 assists, also a game high.

In the final game, the domination near complete, the Wildcats essentially stopped celebrating their points realizing the match was over.

"It's kind of surprising, they took a couple of bad losses recently and they definitely aren't the same team we saw at their place," Evans said. "They had scored 20 and 21 against us so were really paying attention to a lot of things. But after about the first 10 balls, we kind of realized their hearts just weren't into it."

Kiana Pisula had seven kills for Sonora and Savannah Lawrence four. Lawrence also had three assists, five digs and two assisted blocks.

Bailey Henington made 10 digs, Angela Gardella served for three aces, Friend had a solo block and two assisted, Pisula and Kelsie Evans each had two assisted blocks and Leah Dambacher and Bergamaschi each had four digs.

"It's weird that these four years are almost over," Chacon said. "It's been a good run. I've been on successful teams winning league every year. It has been a great experience and am happy I got to be a part of it. It's such a great legacy."

Post game, there was no big celebration, just building anticipation for the next step in reaching their goals.

The Wildcats (13-0 VOL) head to Oakdale (12-1 VOL)Mondayfor the regular-season finale with the VOL title on the line. Beat their rival and the Cats leave the VOL with championship in hand. Lose and they have to share.

"There's no way we want to share," Chacon said.

"It will be interesting," Evans said. "It's always tough playing down there no matter what the records are. We do a lot of mental preparation so hopefully it won't affect us at all."

"It will be like the previous years, their band will play, their crowd will be very excited and it'll be packed in there," Friend said. "We're very excited to play them and we're looking forward to our fans coming and cheering us on."

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The Union Democrat
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