The UC Merced volleyball team finally pulled off the unfathomable against Menlo on Saturday night.
Entering the California Pacific Conference opener against the Oaks, the Bobcats had only managed to win one set against Menlo in the program’s first three years of competition.
UC Merced’s freshman class wasn’t impressed.
Behind the outside play of freshmen Rachael Schaefer (team-high 10 kills) and Melinda Gonzalez (eight kills), the Bobcats swept the two-time conference champs 25-23, 26-24, 25-16 at Hostetler Court.
“It’s a very good win for us,” UC Merced coach Allen McCreary said. “They lost their conference player of the year but are still a very good team. They still have very good ball control, and that’s what puts so much pressure on you.”
McCreary said the Bobcats (5-9, 1-0 Cal Pac) countered with one of their best passing nights of the season. Merced went with a 6-2 formation, opting to let Caroline Mack (game-high 16 assists) share the distribution load with starting setter Genna Garrett (15 assists).
The plan worked in spreading the ball as five Bobcats recorded at least five kills.
“The main thing was we were in system all night,” McCreary said. “We tried the 6-2 last week just to see something different, liked it, and thought it would do well against Menlo (7-7, 0-1).
“We’re at our best when we’re passing the ball around like we did, because it’s really tough for the defense to know where the ball is coming from. They can’t just key on Valeria (Martinez) like they have the past couple years when we’re getting all three of our hitters involved.”
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UC Merced 3, Soka 0 – Ashley Bennett and Becca Bright came off the bench to score second-half goals as the Bobcats (7-1, 3-1 Cal Pac) stormed past Soka (5-5, 2-3) after the break at Lake Field.
Vanessa Villacorta also found the back of the net after intermission, and neither Maggie Morales nor Gabby Vinco had to make a save to earn the shutout.
High school football
Stone Ridge Christian 49, Millennium 21 in Tracy – Bailey Dahlhoff scored four touchdowns as the Knights improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Central California Athletic Alliance.
Dahlhoff scored on runs of 26, 19, 5 and 4 yards. Austin Rees added two touchdown runs to help Stone Ridge match its second-best start in school history.
This story was originally published October 5, 2014 6:52 PM.