Baler volleyball knocks off Wildcatz

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Melissa Moore’s jump serve was pretty much spot on wicked.
Moore, outside hitter for the San Benito High girls volleyball
team, went on an impressive four-ace spurt in game two as the
Balers toppled visiting Watsonville 25-20, 25-10, 23-25, 25-18
Monday night at Mattson Gym.
It was the first home match for the Balers, who evened their
ledger at 7-7.
Melissa Moore’s jump serve was pretty much spot on wicked. Moore, outside hitter for the San Benito High girls volleyball team, went on an impressive four-ace spurt in game two as the Balers toppled visiting Watsonville 25-20, 25-10, 23-25, 25-18 Monday night at Mattson Gym.

It was the first home match for the Balers, who evened their ledger at 7-7.

“We’re improving,” said San Benito head coach Chuck Schallhorn. “We’re not where we want to be.”

The Wildcatz (4-4) were undersized, but played with a lot of gumption.

“Watsonville kept in the match by playing smart volleyball,” said Schallhorn. “They had trouble with our block, so they tipped and created a very effective weakside attack. That threw us off enough that they took game three from us.”

Schallhorn started a relatively young lineup with seniors Mallorie Wilson and Moore, joining juniors Alyssa Fowles, Stephanie Mauro, Leslie Schipper and sophomore Amanda Boyd.

Boyd, considering her lack of varsity experience, played extremely well.

“Amanda’s a great athlete,” said Schallhorn. “She’s earned a spot in the lineup with her play in practice and she’s been playing smart volleyball lately.”

Wilson, who hit close to .400 for the match, registered two of her six kills as the Balers jumped to a 3-0 advantage in game one. Fowles, taking advantage of a new rule, had a serve hit the net and land untouched in the opponent’s court for 5-1. Wilson and Boyd combined for a block for 6-1. At 7-1, Wildcatz coach Ron Benavente used a timeout.

The Balers held leads of 14-5 and 17-9, but couldn’t shake the scrappy ‘Catz, who rallied behind some tough serving from Selina Green. An ace from Green trimmed the Balers’ lead to as little as 19-16.

The momentum wasn’t officially changed until Boyd executed a big swing for 22-19. A jump serve ace by Moore, who had eight aces on the night, brought 23-19. A kill by Wilson was followed by a winner from Boyd and game one was in the bag for the Balers.

Game two went much further for the Balers. A kill by Schipper ate up a back row player for Watsonville. Kathleen McCullough, who sets along with Mauro, contributed an ace and then one more ace for 11-4.

At 17-8, Moore got serious with her jump serving, searing two liners over the net for 19-8 and timeout ‘Catz. She added two more of the Balers’ next three points before finally hitting one long.

“That was Melissa’s best serving match of the game,” said Schallhorn. “Usually she hits one in and then one out. (Tonight) she was able to get her jumper into some great spots which couldn’t be returned.”

Fowles had a great hitting night, finishing with a hitting percentage of .440 and totaling 12 kills. Moore ended up with 10 kills and two blocks. Michelle Sanchez, who played steady in the back row, had four serving aces as the Balers had a season-high 19 aces as a team. Mauro was consistent setting the ball and had 21 assists for the match.

The Balers will have a better measuring stick this Wednesday when they travel to Aptos. The Mariners are 7-1 and ranked ninth in the Central Coast Section feature St. Francis transfer Cory Fox.

Wednesday’s match will be the Balers’ final non-league match before kicking off the Tri-County Athletic League season next Tuesday at Live Oak.

“We’ll be ready for Aptos Wednesday,” said Schallhorn. “Tuesday’s practice will be all passing drills and working on concentration.”

JV result: San Benito defeated Watsonville 25-18, 25-18. Kassie Kearns and Jen Fowles were each 11-11 serving. Fowles had three aces, Kearns one. Bailey Brown went 13-13 from the serving line and had three aces. Courtney Dunn had four kills. “We played well as a team,” said JV coach Marlene Villegas, whose club is now 5-3.

Frosh result: Watsonville defeated San Benito 25-23, 25-23. The Balers (1-2) missed 13 serves, costly in rally scoring. Coach Debbie Fowles gave praise to Samantha Patton for fine all-around play. Patton had five aces and four kills.

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