Central Catholic's 3-0 loss to Los Banos Wednesday night will have a major impact on the Western Athletic Conference title.
Los Banos, feeling like all roads to the WAC title lead through CC, swept the Raiders 25-15, 25-16, 25-7 behind the strength of sophomore Jade Fachin's 17 kills.
"They played really nice ball tonight. They did a good job," Central Catholic coach Bob Murr said. "We didn't come in with the intent of doing everything we needed to do to win. And they did.
"They came loaded for bear. And we didn't."
Reilly O'Brien led the Raiders (6-8, 2-1 WAC) with 7 kills and 8 digs, while a slew of Tigers got in on the action -- in addition to Fachin's 17 kills, middle blocker Michelle Gutierrez knocked down 7 kills, and Monica Mendiola added half a dozen. Fachin and setter Colleen Allen each set down 4 blocks as well.
While the first two games were as competitive as one could expect from two teams that shared the league title a year ago, Los Banos (10-11, 3-0 WAC) jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the third.
"We were really fired up," Mendiola said. "The biggest thing is we didn't just go in to win. We wanted to kill this team."
While the wheels came off for Central Catholic, Los Banos' offense was as focused as it has been all season, with the middle blockers becoming more involved.
"We've got some decent outside hitters, but that's not going to do it for us. We need some other hitters," Los Banos coach Greg Soliz said. "(The middle blockers) have kind of come through for us lately. We need for them to be involved, because we can't just set to Jade every time."
For Central Catholic's part, Murr wasn't too worried -- Los Banos has to come to Modesto later this season -- and he doesn't think the third game damaged his players' confidence.
"It'll probably cause their muscles to ache a little bit tomorrow," he joked.
Los Banos took an early lead in the first game, climbing to an 11-5 lead before Central Catholic called timeout to work things out. Afterward, the Raiders pulled within two on two occasions (11-9 and 15-13) but couldn't overtake the Tigers.
Game 2 went back and forth from the start before Central Catholic took a 7-4 lead. Los Banos fought back to take an 8-7 lead and outpaced the Raiders from there, eventually taking the game on a Gutierrez block.
"We had not wanted this one," Murr said, "but we needed something like this."
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org