The girls of Turlock Christian High’s volleyball team enjoyed an early Christmas on Thursday, earning the second section title in the program’s history with a four set defeat of Roseville’s Valley Christian High. The Eagles beat the Lions 3-1 (25-8, 23-25, 25-16, and 25-22) in the Division VI championship match at UC Davis in a final hurrah for three seniors and an impressive benchmark for first year head coach Ken Wynne.
“It’s still soaking in,” Wynne said. “It means a lot to me to see how the girls have grown as a team. We grew as a family all year and it was a nice reward at the end to be able to finish it out.”
TC entered Thursday’s match with a feeling of cool confidence after defeated second seed Sac Country Day High in four sets only two days earlier. With a legion of Eagle supporters, TC’s girls stepped onto the court and dismantled Valley Christian in the first set, pressuring the defensive team with an array of hitters.
“I didn’t sense a lot of nerves,” Wynne said. “They came in relatively calm, given the circumstances.”
Although the second set saw the Lions get the best of the Eagles in a see-saw battle, TC recollected itself in the last two sets as the team pushed forward with its power based offense. Juniors Sarah Amaral, Anna Larson, Monique McMeechan, and sophomore Victoria Vieira took turns finding holes in Valley Christian’s defense. Amaral led TC’s scoring effort with 16 kills, many of which were aided by junior Tiffany Franco who recorded 36 assists on the day.
“They didn’t stop. We kept setting them and they kept hitting them,” Wynne said of his hitters.
Seniors Arin Morelli and Catharine Balswick spent their final match as Eagles shoring up the center and back court on defense. Amaral had a big defensive game as well, padding her stats with 24 digs and four blocks.
Valley Christian put up a final fighting effort in the fourth set, leveling the score mid-way through, but steady kills and reliable serving staved the Lions off. Senior Allison Ulrich notched the game winning point with one of her two aces, sending TC’s players, coaches, and supporters into hysterics.
“When the ball hit and they heard the whistle blow for the point, all the girls ran to the middle of the court, hugging and screaming and falling to the ground,” Wynne said. “There was jubilation everywhere.”
Morelli, Ulrich, and Balswick will be gone for the 2013 season but the return of Amaral and six fellow varsity veterans is a good foundation for Wynne’s second year as head coach.