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Prep Playoff Volleyball: Hague, Golden Valley silence Edison coach

Gabriel Leal might want to give his head games a rest.

The Stockton Edison coach did his best to rattle Golden Valley setter Ali Hague early in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game Tuesday night.

Leal only made himself look like a coach with no class.

The incident happened midway through the first game after Hague was called for a double hit.

"I told you their setter was no good," yelled Leal loud enough for the entire gym to hear.

The move backfired.

All Hague did was rack up 29 assists and 15 digs to help lead GV to a 9-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19 win.

"I was embarrassed," Hague said. "I just think it was so rude.

"Whatever, if that's his strategy, I think it's a pretty terrible strategy."

Leal was assessed a yellow card for his outburst.

"I watched her last week against Buhach and I thought I could rattle her," said Leal, who apologized to Hague after the match. "I think she is a good setter and has a lot of potential.

"I just thought I could get her off her game. It didn't work. She did a good job of leading her team."

Edison (23-17) dominated GV in the first game.

Edison's Brianna Lacy, Britney Pascual and Marceliese Hardin fired away at GV's defense.

"We were too comfortable with us being the No. 3 seed and Edison being No. 14," Hague said. "None of that matters. It took us a while to start playing at the right level."

That's why Leal's outburst came at a strange time.

His team was cruising.

Not only did Leal's tactics have no effect on Hague, he also woke up Golden Valley.

GV roared back with crisper passing, which led to better looks on offense.

Katelyn Bennett (14 kills) and Celeste Castillo (12 kills) led the way.

Reina Sykes added five blocks and five aces.

"I thank their coach for motivating us," said GV coach Matt Thissen, whose team improved to 15-2.

"There's no place for that in high school athletics. Obviously, it woke us up and I think it helped us rally around Ali."

Leal felt his team just let down after the opening game.

"We relaxed," he said. "We thought we'd come in here and kick this team's butt."

Golden Valley moves on to a second round matchup against Stockton Lincoln on Thursday.

"We have to come out ready to play from the first game," Thissen said. "Tonight, we played like we were afraid to lose.

"Hopefully, we've learned from that and put it behind us."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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