One of the constant themes during league play for the Los Banos volleyball team is staying motivated during blowout games.
That wasn't a problem during Wednesday's 25-10, 25-15, 25-10 sweep over visiting Patterson, despite the mostly-empty stands and empty echo of the ball off the gym walls.
"We try to stay positive and keep the energy up," LB libero Kassandra Gaxiola said. "Most of us try to scream as loud as we can just so everyone else will feel the energy, even when they're not as intense, it's still the best to keep up the energy."
Gaxiola led the Tigers with 5 aces, personifying the work the team has put into service efficiency. The senior led the team on a nine-point run during the third game, taking LB from a 13-7 lead to 22-7 with a mix of short and long serves that flustered the Patterson defense. When Patterson adjusted to the center of the court, Gaxiola found the corners.
"That's what we've been working on is serving short, and when they come up short, serving deep, or we'll go deep so they've got to move," Los Banos coach Greg Soliz said. "That's something we've been working on is serving spots."
Jade Fachin led Los Banos with 14 kills, and middle blocker Michelle Gutierrez added six. Colleen Allen and Julia Waldron split time at setter, with Allen scoring 12 assists and Waldron 10.
Patterson didn't put up many points due to a defense Los Banos is proud of.
"Defense is really important because it's basically the start of every play," Gaxiola said. "Every play starts with a pass, and without defense, we can't get any hits.
"I feel like we work very hard, and with hard work comes success."
The Tigers will prepare for the looming playoffs with the Edison Tournament at Lodi High School, which Soliz said will feature many Sac-Joaquin Section playoff teams.
"There's something like 64 teams there, so we'll see a lot of teams that we'll probably face in the playoffs," Soliz said. "It's a good tuneup. And then Monday we have Central Catholic."
Across town, Pacheco dropped a 25-14, 25-10, 25-3 match to Central Catholic on Monday, then rebounded with a four-game win over Ceres on Wednesday to remain in playoff contention.
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org