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Hoover stops Redwood in Div. III girls volleyball final

12:00 AM, Nov. 16, 2012 EST

Redwood's Rebekah Cervantes (14) spikes the ball by Hoover's Breanna Deleon (7) on Thursday at the Redwood gym. / John Noell

The Redwood and Hoover volleyball teams entered Thursday's Central Section Division III championship match on title droughts.

The Rangers last won a Valley title in 2006.

The Patriots last won a Valley title in 1986.

The long drought came to an end for No. 4 Hoover as it knocked off No. 2 Redwood in four sets 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 25-23 at the Redwood gymnasium.

"We've looked at our banner every year for the last 11 years since I've been there and we see 1986 Valley championship," Hoover coach Christina Nelson said. "Every year that's our goal. We were aiming for that because that one banner is so old."

The Patriots will now get the opportunity to hang a new banner in their gym.

The Rangers drought has been much shorter, and with a young team, they are hoping it lasts just one more year.

"We have a lot of key players coming back," Redwood first-year coach Janeece Thompson said. "We'll be strong. I'm hoping we stay strong. We're coming back and we're coming back fierce."

The Rangers return eight underclassmen from this year's roster and are hoping they can build off the success they had under their first-year coach.

"We had a great season," Thompson said. "I hope none of my girls hang their heads. We worked hard and came far. I'm very proud of all of them."

Hoover capped off a memorable year. The Patriots wrapped up a season in which it went 10-0 en route to a North Yosemite League championship and finished 28-10 overall.

"It started from Day 1 in practice," Nelson said. "We wanted to change that banner. We wanted to make history."

Hoover, which brought a bus-load of fans from Fresno and made the atmosphere for the match very loud and exciting, jumped all over Redwood in the first set.

The Patriots led 16-8 before going on to win 25-20.

Redwood fought back to win the second set, and held a 22-19 lead in the third set, but Hoover rattled off six straight points to win the set and take control of the match.

The fourth set was tightly contested, but Hoover's Deja Manning finished it off with the final two points to clinch the title.

Manning was all over the court for the Patriots, finishing with 22 kills and 17 digs. Meranda Watkins added 19 kills, Tynisha Thornton had 37 assists and Sydney Taylor-salery had seven blocks for Hoover.

"This was a long-time coming," Nelson said. "Heart and hustle made it through. We never gave up."

The Rangers were led by Rebekah Cervantes with 22 digs, 13 kills and five blocks. Ashley Cervantes added 16 digs and seven kills, Ciara Wong had 43 assists, Kimbra Juarez had 14 digs, Chandler McKean had 12 kills and Jazmine Gilcrest finished with seven kills and five blocks.

All six of those players are underclassmen.

"I told my girls before the match that win or lose, I was proud of them no matter what," Thompson said. "We've come so far and worked so hard. Obviously, it would be great to win. We are disappointed, but we're not sad over it. I'm proud to coach these girls and to reach a Valley championship."




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