Before Monday’s Valley Oak League match, the Central Catholic High School volleyball team made a bold pledge.
Caught in a four-way battle for three automatic playoff berths, the Raiders decided they could ill afford another loss. So they informed their coach, Bob Murr, a retired teacher, of their plan: We’re all in, coach.
“The team decided they will lose no more this season,” Murr said, “and we’ll see how far they can take that.”
The Raiders got off to a fast start, avenging a loss to Manteca with a 3-1 victory. The two entered the week tied in the VOL standings, but the Buffaloes (13-6, 7-4) owned the slight advantage thanks to a 3-1 victory Sept. 21.
Central Catholic (15-6, 8-3) flipped the scoreboard, riding Ambria Schneringer’s powerful arm swing to a resounding win. Schneringer had 18 kills, 10 assists and six blocks as Central Catholic posted a 25-17, 16-25, 25-16, 25-21 win.
The Raiders have won six consecutive matches, a streak surpassed only by Oakdale’s seven-match run entering Monday’s matches.
Last season, Central Catholic missed the postseason for the first time in seven years.
“Looking at what we need to do to get into the playoffs, this is one we had to win,” Murr said. “Manteca won the first one. We couldn’t lose this one and give away the head-to-head. This brings us closer in our quest to make the playoffs.”
Schneringer’s ever-improving play gives Murr confidence the Raiders can pull off the playoff feat. The junior has blossomed into one of the top attackers in the VOL. She’s able to read defenses and finish through blocks.
That wasn’t always the case at the beginning of the season.
“It’s fun to watch them all play, but Ambria has made the transition from playing to playing smart,” Murr said. “She’s only a junior. She’s starting to understand finding holes and wiping blocks. The last couple of weeks she’s become a thinking player. She’s starting to see the court from a different view, and she’s stepping up.”
Schneringer isn’t the only one.
Melissa Zanotto had a team-high 25 assists Monday, while Liv Nelson, Jessica Limbaugh and Leah Forester had six kills apiece.
Grace Kiesel had six blocks, Lourdes Herrera and Zanotto had 16 digs apiece, and Limbaugh had the team’s only two aces.
Zanotto and Kiesel are also juniors.
Manteca was paced by Destanie Elliott (10 kills), Kaitlyn Morenzone (17 assists, 10 digs), and Kacy Bolding (five blocks).
Central Catholic travels to East Union on Wednesday, then returns home for a Monday showdown with league-leading Oakdale. The Raiders defeated the Lancers in four games last week.