VOLLEYBALL: Balers take season series over Gilroy

 

After last year’s four-set win by Gilroy, which put a screeching
halt to San Benito’s decade-long winning streak over the Mustangs,
the Balers picked up where they left off this season and swept the
two-match season series.
Just as one streak ended, another streak begins.

After last year’s four-set win by Gilroy, which put a screeching halt to San Benito’s decade-long winning streak over the Mustangs, the Balers picked up where they left off this season and swept the two-match season series.

On Wednesday, it was a quick and easy three-set win (25-13, 25-20, 25-9) over Gilroy, in a match San Benito head coach Dean Askanas called “the Katherine Breger show.”

The junior outside hitter led the Balers with 19 kills and nine digs.

“Her defense is getting great and her hitting is the best we’ve had in years,” Askanas said. “She’s really coming into her own.”

The Mustangs didn’t have much of an answer for Breger, who did just as much damage Wednesday night from the back row — believe it or not — than she did from the front row.

“She kills just as effective,” said Askanas, whose Balers improve to 4-5 in the Tri-County Athletic League, 13-14 overall.

Breger had eight of her 19 kills in the convincing third set, many of which came from the back row, where the junior hitter was able to find no-man’s land with relative ease.

“She’s a good player. She can definitely hit,” Gilroy head coach Josh Corioso. “But as for our team, we should have been able to shut her down. We have six other players on the court, we should have been able to pick up her hits.

“But she was getting through our blocks.”

Kills from Breger and Ellie Burley, as well as a service ace from Raelynn Heredia, staked San Benito out to an 8-0 lead in the third set, setting the tone late after the Balers took the first two games 25-13, 25-20.

Heredia, meanwhile, finished the match with 30 assists and 10 digs.

Gilroy’s Gabby Flores put the Mustangs on the board with a down block in third set, while teammates Demornay Granado and Megan Wheat followed with blocks to pull Gilroy to within six.

However, it was the closest the Mustangs would come in the third and final set Wednesday, as San Benito pulled away when Breger ricocheted a hit off Gilroy’s back line and Jessica Steigelman trailed with a service ace.

“They were serving us off the court,” said Corioso, whose Mustangs fall to 9-7 overall, 3-6 in the TCAL. “We couldn’t play up to par today.”

Wednesday’s match was a day late than originally scheduled after the two teams met Tuesday and learned there were no referees assigned to the league contest. When asked if it had any affect on the team, Corioso said, “It does.”

“But they need to be prepared for any kink in the chain,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday. They have to be able to play the game.”

Statistics from Gilroy were not provided at press time.

The Mustangs trailed by as many as 10 points in the second set when they stormed back late. Karina Daniels floated an ace to cut the deficit to five points, while several Baler hitting errors and a kill from Flores pulled Gilroy to within four points, 23-19.

But a kill from Breger ended the run, while Steigelman closed out the set with an up-and-over tip at the net.

Steigelman finished with six digs, where as both Sara Yamasaki and Mari Vallejo finished with 15 digs apiece.

Both Gilroy and San Benito will be back in action on Thursday, with the Mustangs hosting Alvarez and the Balers visiting Notre Dame. Both matches start at 6:30 p.m.

“That’s a tough match and I wish we had a practice in between,” Askanas said. “So I regret that didn’t work out that way, but we’ll see.”

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