Woodlake, Strathmore volleyball share league title

Strathmore’s Pearl Johnson serves the ball to Woodlake. With their win over the Tigers, the Spartans avenged a loss from earlier in the season and improved to 5-1 in the East Yosemite League.(Kason Clark)

Both the Tigers and Spartans went 7-1 in league play to clinch a share of the East Sequoia League championship; Woodlake and Strathmore split the season series to end the year sharing the title

TULARE COUNTY – It was a competitive season in the East Sequoia Volleyball League this fall. It was so competitive that the league had to crown co-champions in the Woodlake Tigers and the Strathmore Spartans, as both teams went 7-1 in league play.

“Sharing a league championship this season meant a lot,” Strathmore head coach Fidelina Camacho said. “It was the culmination of the dedication, perseverance and wavering commitment these girls had and it was incredible to see it all pay off.”

Woodlake finished the season with an overall record of 15-16. The Tigers played well in the Division 6 Central Section Playoffs with a 3-2 victory (22-25, 25-12, 25-19, 25-23) over Immanuel Christian in the postseason opener. However, the Tigers’ season came to an end with a 3-1 loss (25-21, 25-19, 24-26, 25-19)  to Lone Pine.

Many Tigers played well over the course of the 2023 season. Sophomore Mattison Morales had a strong season as she led the league with kills and service aces this fall. Outside hitter Sierra Sherwood also made an impact in her final year in the program. Along with players such as Janelle Sanchez, Karla Poo and Alyssa Coehlo, the Tigers had a strong team that worked well together.

“The varsity team established a very strong bond with each other,” Woodlake head coach Michelle Archuleta said. “They were sisters and they played like a tight unit on the court.”

Strathmore went 13-13 over the course of its season with the highlight being a 3-1 win (25-16, 25-11, 16-25, 25-17) over Woodlake earlier this month. The win split the season series between the two teams and secured Strathmore a piece of the league title. However, the Spartan’s year ended with a 3-1 loss (22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-15) to Roosevelt in the Division 6 Central Section Playoffs

Several Spartans had great seasons to lead their team to success. Pearl Johnson led the offense with 108 kills and 405 attacks this season. On defense, Alina Ibarra made an impact with 338 digs. Seniors Melissa Lua and Jada Bravo played well as the blockers for the team. As the Spartans played well on the court, Camacho credits it to her team’s mental fortitude.

“One of our key factors was building mental toughness along with building not just a team, but a family of volleyball players,” Camacho said. “They were able to create such great chemistry on and off the court. This season, they set out to be the warriors who would represent the Spartan Volleyball Program.”

While the Spartans and Tigers had solid seasons, they will both be looking to build off the co-championship as they prepare for next season. Strathmore will return several players from this team, so Camacho is looking forward to seeing her team continue to grow next year.

“I still see that this young team has some work ahead to allow them to finish what they started,” Camacho said.

Of course, the Spartans will once again have to compete with the Tigers for the league championship. While Woodlake will lose four seniors to graduation, Archuleta is also confident that her team can contend for the foreseeable future in the East Sequoia League.

“Looking ahead at the program, I am very optimistic for its continued success,” Archuleta said. “The Tigers should come back next season better and stronger than ever.”

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