State

Oakdale gets it right in toppling Del Oro

OAKDALE -- The members of the Oakdale High volleyball team entered Thursday's section quarterfinals knowing this was the round their season ended on last year.

It didn't take long for that anticipation to turn into confidence.

"It was right from the start," Mustangs senior Alexis Evans said. "We were playing well. We had the confidence; we knew we were going to do it."

The Mustangs wasted little time with Dixon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff match, rolling to a 25-12, 25-12, 25-17 victory over the Rams at Oakdale High.

Oakdale, the No. 3 seed, has one more match at home. The Mustangs will play No. 7 Del Oro -- a three-game winner over No. 2 Pioneer in their quarterfinal -- in a Tuesday semifinal at Oakdale.

Sophomore setter Jackee Lee found teammates across the net. Evans (12 kills) led a group of five different Mustangs players who had at least five kills.

"It's the playoffs, time to step up our game," Lee said. "We want to show what we can do."

Oakdale was very impressive in dispatching the Rams. The Mustangs defense rarely let a ball drop and Lee had pinpoint accuracy in finding her teammates. Evans and Jaci Powell (11 kills) were the top hitters from the outside, while Emily Shepherd (six kills) and Maddy Willett (five kills) did their damage from the middle.

"Since the playoffs have started, the girls have really shown what they're capable of," Oakdale coach Shelli Ponce said. "Seeing their demeanor tonight, I knew they were going to have another strong match."

Oakdale was just as impressive from behind the line. Evans and Lee led the Mustangs with six aces apiece, and the team had several lengthy runs.

With the score tied 6-6 in the first game, Evans served 15 consecutive points for an insurmountable lead.

"It felt like my arm was going to fall off for a second there," Evans said. "We just kept going."

In the second game, it was Jaci and Juli Powell's turn. Jaci opened the game with six consecutive service points, and Juli followed later with a nine-point run.

It was Evans' turn again in the third game; she served for seven points while Lee chipped in with five.

"We took advantage every time we had the chance," Ponce said. "I was a little surprised at the score, they're a No. 6 seed. But my girls are playing pretty well right now."

Playing well enough, Ponce hopes, to get past Del Oro on Tuesday and advance to the section championship match at UC Davis next Thursday.

"Most of this team is back from last year," Evans said. "We're playing at a higher level right now."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at wdeboard@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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