SANGER – The Sanger West High volleyball team is on a roll as the North Yosemite League (NYL) season swings into the second round of play.
Buoyed by a pair of strong tournament showings and development of a seasoned roster, the Hornets (21-6, 5-1) ran off a fifth consecutive NYL victory on Tuesday, Sept. 26, with a three-set sweep of Sunnyside High at Sanger West gym. Scores were 25-16, 25-21 and 25-19.
The sixth straight NYL win gives Sanger West momentum into a Thursday, Sept. 28 home rematch against first place Hoover. The Patriots (16-8, 7-0) swept the first meeting in Fresno on Sept. 5, but the final two sets were 29-27 and 25-23.
“Defensively, playing the floor and working on our passing game was key to tonight’s performance,” Sanger West coach Marissa Taff said of the win over Sunnyside by her squad, which features eight seniors returning from a team that went .500 in league in its first varsity season in 2022.
The seniors along with a good mix of younger talent has helped the Hornets reel off wins in 17 of their last 19 matches, 10 of 12 coming in two tournaments featuring an Orosi tournament title and second place finish in their own Hornet tournament.
One of the team’s eight seniors, middle blocker Aubrey Pulido, was especially effective against the visiting Wildcats with double figures in kills and a handful of blocks at the net. Entering the match, the co-captain led the team with 175 kills and 37 blocks and has shown impressive leaping ability at the net. Taff specifically pointed out her blocking prowess.
Pulido’s hitting and serving were strong in the opening set surge as the Hornets turned a 12-9 lead into a decisive win. Kills from Pulido and senior outside hitter Bryanna Juarez closed out the set, and in set two the Hornets staved off a late charge by the visitors with kills from Alexis Arreola, Tho’Niyza Harris and sophomore outside hitter Maiya Potter.
Pulido had four kills and took command at the net to help the hosts open a lead in the final set. After Sunnyside closed within 21-19, junior defensive specialist Kaitlyn Mouanoutoua delivered three service aces around a kill from Potter to close out the match.
“We’ve been working on all sorts of varieties of attack. It’s really fun to see them try new things,” Taff said of her team’s offensive performance.
Potter complemented Pulido with nine kills while Arreola and Juarez added four and three kills. The team finished with 11 ace serves; three each by Mouanoutoua, Pulido and Vanessa Villavicencio. Junior libero Villavicencio also collected 20 digs while seniors Melanie Fang and Kelly Mouanoutoua dished off 23 and 15 assists, respectively.
Defensively, Villavicencio registered 26 digs without a receiving error.