The 2022 Westside League volleyball season was hotly contested with any one of four teams capable and talented enough to win the title.
But when the dust settled inside the Creekside Junior High gym on October 13th, the host Wildcats came away with a thrilling 2-1 championship victory over Sierra-Prather.
Sierra came into the contest on a very high note, having upset previously unbeaten Wilson-Chowchilla in the semi-finals. Creekside, whose only regular season loss came against Wilson and was the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, won their semi-final against a tough Huron squad, 2-0.
Against Sierra, the Wildcats won the first game, 25-20 but lost the second game, 20-25.
In the third and final set, Sierra was only able to side out three times and Creekside four times. Jaylee Smith earned four points with her serves, Janelle Leon earned five points, and Addison Meldon earned two, as well as Mikayla Luna.
“All of these girls had aces during the entire match,” said head coach Sandy Anaya. “Not every serve was an ace, but these girls were able to put it out there. In between the serves we were able to put the ball in play with a pass, set, hit combo that put pressure on the other team. Both teams had good rallies. Sierra didn’t make it easy for us. They came to play but then again, so did we.”
The Wildcats won the final match and the title, 15-3.
Anaya went into the season with six solid returners.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of girls,” said Anaya. “I had the six returners and one new addition. It took awhile for the returning girls to trust and play with their new teammate because they never played with her before, but we eventually got there.”
At the middle school level, it’s all about the basics and the Wildcats kept constant pressure on their opponents by applying those basics.
“From the beginning, I tried to have the girls apply the pass, set, and hit on offense,” explained Anaya. “On defense, our girls were athletic enough to use the block against attacks and cover the court for tips.”
It also helped that her squad was solid with their serves.
“Each girl has a really good serve,” she said. “Some opponents struggled with them, not being able to put the ball in play.”
Anaya was not keen on picking out one player who shined during the season.
“Well, believe it or not all six starters are great all- around players,” she explained. “Each and every one of them are consistent. If I had to pick one of them who improved the most that would be Kendall Castillo. She wasn’t able to get her serves over the net last year, but once she was able to do it nothing could stop her.”
The Wildcats finished the season with an overall record of 11-1.