‘Balers girls’ VB
amp; tennis squads defeat N. Salinas
Even though the San Benito girls’ golf team finished far behind visiting Robert Louis Stevenson, the ‘Balers took a number of positives from their round at Ridgemark on Thursday. Playing one of the Tri-County Athletic League’s top teams, San Benito lost 173-193, but earned valuable experience that should pay dividends as the season progresses.

“It’s a good step forward in having them realize they can play with people above them,” ‘Balers coach Chris Branon said. “It gives them something to look forward to and challenge them.”

Despite falling a few strokes shy of the season-best 185 they shot on Tuesday, the ‘Balers showed plenty of encouraging signs on the course.

San Benito No. 1 Marissa Gutierrez, playing with RLS star Mina Harigae, shot a 44 that could easily have been four strokes better. Gutierrez showed her resolve by overcoming an 8 on the second-to-last hole to finish with a birdie.

Katie O’Brien – “my star of the day,” Branon said – fired a 46, using a pair of birdies to finish with the ‘Balers’ second-best round. “Look at the score,” the San Benito coach said. “A 46 from a No. 5 (golfer).”

Ashley Bushaw (49) and Jordan Archer (54) rounded out the scoring for the ‘Balers.

Harigae took medalist honors with her 37.

Most pleasing to Branon was his team’s resilience, playing through mistakes to come back with strong shots on the next holes. “They figured out their mistakes,” he said. “The pleasing part is they came back with pars or birdies.”

“We’re looking forward,” Branon concluded. “We’re not looking back. And this was a good step forward.”


The San Benito girls’ volleyball team dispatched visiting North Salinas on Thursday, sweeping the Vikings despite the absence of one of its key cogs.

With junior middle blocker Ali Sharp sidelined with a sprained ankle, the ‘Balers overcame a rocky start to emerge with a 25-19, 25-10, 25-9 win.

“We started off a little out of sync,” ‘Balers coach Dean Askanas said, “and then we started communicating better.”

Justine Hunter and Megan Halstead stepped into Sharp’s slot, with recent JV call-up Warda Alam contributing as well. “Our middles are doing a lot of learning,” Askanas said.

Junior Emily Korsten led San Benito with 15 kills.

The ‘Balers (14-2) improved to 2-0 in Tri-County Athletic League play and ran their winning streak to 10 matches.

San Benito travels to the Harbor Tournament this weekend, an invitational that includes St. Mary’s of Berkeley, the 2005 NorCal Division IV champion. Aptos and Woodside are among the other teams in the field, a group that led Askanas to say “It’ll be great competition.”

The ‘Balers open play Saturday morning at Soquel High.


The Lady ‘Balers won their second straight Tri-County Athletic League match, beating North Salinas 5-2 at Ridgemark on Thursday.

San Benito (4-5, 2-1 TCAL) used straight-set victories from singles players Amanda Marshall, Lizzy Gatto and Rebecca Williams to power past the Vikings.

‘Balers head coach was particularly impressed with the play of his No. 3 doubles team of Athena Hernandez and Courtney Fisher. “They’re starting to put it together,” he said. “Their focus and their concentration are really good.”

After suffering a 7-0 loss to Notre Dame in its league opener last week, San Benito has been playing much better tennis, following up its sweep of Gilroy Tuesday with the victory over North Salinas. “Things are starting to gel,” Cecena said. “Of course, the competition isn’t as tough as Notre Dame. We’re winning the matches we’re supposed to be winning.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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