STOCKTON - It was a truly historic weekend for the Gavilan College women's volleyball team as the Rams captured the prestigious Delta Classic tournament championship, a 16-team event and the largest such tourney in the state every year. The Rams beat American River in the 4-set title match, rallying from a 1-0 deficit to win, 18-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-20.
The Rams (10-0) were recently tabbed as the No. 2 team in the first CCCWVCA State Top 25 rankings and currently hold bragging rights as the No. 1 team in the North Region. Gavilan, coached by Kevin Kramer, had never finished higher than fifth place at the San Joaquin Delta tourney in the 11 years it has participated in the Stockton affair.
Offensively it was outside hitter Teresa Ochoa (All-Tourney and just named CCCWCA Player of the Week from the NorCal Region) leading the way with 17 kills with Charlotte Cannizzaro right behind her with 15. Kieley Hoskins handed out 23 assists while Greysen Gilroy sent out 17 of her own as the pair of setters ran the offense. Mikeila Banda was steady with 18 digs and Ochoa finished with 15. Evelyn Clonts finished with eight total blocks and Camille Finley added three.
"It was an amazing team effort with contributions from the entire roster," Kramer said. "I really felt that our players played for each other the entire weekend. We have a good group of returning players, including our middles, but we also have an extremely strong freshmen class that fights for every point. I figured we were going to be in the mix with the better teams, but I had no idea we would have a run like this one."
Gavilan's 4-0 tourney run included sweeps over Solano and host Delta. In the semifinals, the Rams downed Hartnell in four sets. Hartnell, another improved program with a remarkable No. 11 rating in the state, had earlier beaten No. 14 Fresno City in five and had a victory the week before against No. 6 American River. Sam Shafer pounded 15 kills for Hartnell, but the Rams were paced by Clonts who had four solo blocks and added five kills, and the Ochoa/Finley combo tallying 11 kills each.
In the title match, American River was led by Washington State bounceback Savanah Smith (16 kills, 11 digs) and Lily Johnson (18 kills). The Beavers sent some shock waves earlier in the tourney by ending Cabrillo's 42-match, regular season winning streak, defeating the Seahawks in five sets, 25-23, 22-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-11. Johnson was force with 26 kills and Smith a defensive wizard, making 32 digs.
There were five tourney matches that went the five-set distance. While ARC grabbed second place, Feather River placed third with a sweep over San Mateo and 4-set victories over Foothill and then Hartnell in the third place final. American River handed the No. 10-ranked Golden Eagles a shutout loss, 25-19, 25-12, 25-21. In the win over Hartnell, FRC setter Lauren Ornbaum dished out 48 assists and Chloe Hampton scored 21 kills.
Gavilan's libero Banda was named the tourney MVP after making 68 digs in the four victories.
Release by Robert Lewis, CCCWVCA SID