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TOUGH AT THE NET  — From left, El Molino volleyballers Sasha Senal, Brooklyn Hayes, Ellie Roan and Yasmin Sierra formed a formidable line of defense at the net.

The El Molino volleyball team took a huge step toward the ultimate goal of hanging a championship pennant, turning back divisional powers Rancho Cotate and Ukiah in the opening stretch of North Bay League action.

The Lions (2-0, 14-4) achieved both victories on the road in hostile territory, an important outcome for a team with title aspirations. 

The Lions had more than enough firepower to overcome a sluggish performance in their Sept. 24 visit to Rancho Cotate, as El Mo easily dispatched the Cougars in straight sets: 25-19, 26-24, 25-19.

“We won in three sets, but it was a weird win,” Lions coach Becky Sani noted. “The match seemed to be in slow motion. I don’t know if it was because their new facility is so huge or if lack of fans in that big gym was the reason or if it was just one of those days.”  

Statistical leaders for the Lions were Yasmin Sierra (22 digs), Grace McCormick (27 assists, 10 digs), Sasha Senal (15 kills, 16 digs), Kassidy Sani (15 kills, 20 digs) and Ellie Roan (3 kills, 4 digs).

The Sept. 26 visit to defending NBL Redwood Division champion Ukiah was of particular note, as El Mo took the court with added incentive.

“An article came out in the paper on Wednesday about our match at Ukiah, and it made us sound like the underdogs,” Sani said. “We used that to fuel our fire at practice.”

The extra “juice” gave the Lions all the motivation they would need, powering to a win in four games: 25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 25-15.

An injury to Senal in the second game forced the Lions to call on junior outside hitter Isabella Raia to fill her shoes. The Lions didn’t skip a beat en route to the victory.   

Pacing the attack were Kassidy Sani (22 Kills, 14 digs, 4 aces), McCormick (38 assists, 9 digs); Bella Raia (4 kills, 6 digs); Alex Foszcz (4 kills); Sierra (21 digs) and Senal (7 kills, 5 digs).

“Last year we split matches with them, ultimately making us lose the pennant,” Becky Sani noted. “We were determined not to let that happen again this year.” 

The Lions will host Healdsburg on Oct. 1 (after press time) and entertain Elsie Allen this Thursday, Oct. 3. Start times for the JV and varsity are 5 and 6 p.m. El Mo will wrap up a busy week at the Nor Cal Invitational Tournament at Rancho Cotate on Saturday, Oct. 5.

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ACE — Analy senior Bella Puget served one up for the Tigers.

Tigers fall to league foes

Analy weathered a tough start to the NBL Oak Division schedule, dropping a pair of home matches to Cardinal Newman and Maria Carrillo.

The Tigers played from behind from start to finish in their Sept. 24 match with Newman, falling to the Cardinals in three sets: 17-25, 23-25, 22-25.

Statistical leaders were Bree Scott (19 digs 2 aces) and Hannah Gest (19 assists, 8 digs).

Analy played host to perennial power Maria Carrillo two nights later, succumbing to the Pumas in four: 25-22, 18-25, 18-25, 14-25.

Leading the way were Scott (27 digs), Hannah Gest (13 digs, 14 assists), Juliette Price (10 kills) and Avery Tollini (11 digs).

The Tigers (0-2, 6-8) will resume league play on Oct. 1 at Windsor and visit Montgomery on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

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