ORANGE COVE – The Orange Cove High volleyball team took full advantage of the opportunity presented to them during a showdown for first place in the East Sequoia League’s Redwood Division on Thursday night.
Senior co-captains Sienna Ruiz and Cindy Garcia led the way with powerful performances at the net, and the Titans avenged a first round loss to Farmersville High with a 25-121, 25-13, 25-22 sweep of the Aztecs at Orange Cove High gym. Orange Cove (16-12-1 overall) now takes over sole possession of the ESL top spot at 7-2, and would finish no worse than division co-champions with wins in its final two matches.
“Our team looked amazing tonight,” said OCHS coach Heather Stepp. “We were on our offense and blocking. We had a very good practice (on Wednesday).”
Practice made perfect, as the Titans served well and generally controlled the net after establishing early dominance in the first set. Ruiz, the team’s 6-foot-1 middle hitter and blocker, finished with 12 kills and two blocks while also delivering a team-high six ace serves.
Garcia complemented the hitting attack with eight kills and effectively set up the offense with 14 assists. The Titans generally were solid defensively, with Giuliani Morales and Vanessa Tristan finishing with 18 and 15 digs, respectively.
Stepp also praised the contributions of senior Elani Rosas, who had a service run in the third set to help the team close out the victory. “This is her first year playing volleyball,” she said of the middle blocker and outside hitter.
Farmersville (19-9-1) defeated Orange Cove in a first round ESL matchup on Sept. 26, but jumped on early this time around and never really could get untracked until the third set. Sophomore captain Jazmaine Stewart collected some kills and went on a service run to put the visitors up 20-18, but Rosas’ service run put the Titans ahead to stay, 22-20.
Garcia’s kill through a double block brought the hosts to match point, and Ruiz finished off the victory with a block at the net. Ruiz also had a good passing and defensive night with seven assists and 11 digs. For the match, Orange Cove collected 64 digs and dished out 23 assists.
Orange Cove closes out its regular season with a road match at Wonderful College Prep Academy on Monday, Oct. 16, then hosts Summit Charter Academy for the team’s Senior Night on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Farmersville’s next scheduled match is Monday, Oct. 16, at Woodlake High in a 6:30 p.m. start. The Aztecs’ final ESL home match will be Wednesday, Oct. 18 against Wonderful College Prep Academy.
Seedings for the section playoffs take place Saturday, Oct. 21, and the first round of postseason begins on Tuesday, Oct. 24.