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First and second face off for East Sierra League championship

Annabelle Messer | The Feather Online

Richie Cortez, ’21 (left to right), interviewed seniors Megan LeBlanc, Avery Jones, Laura Rauscher and Kayla Vanderlinden about senior night, Oct. 15.

Wonderful College Prep Academy (WCPA) enters Eagle territory with a goal of stopping Fresno Christian’s perfect East Sierra League record of 8-0, Oct. 17. The WCPA Wolves head into this game with a league record of 8-1 and overall record of 21-6-2.

Both teams are red hot as WCPA comes off a win against Laton, continuing their four-game winning streak. As for the Eagles, a win against Kings Christian advances their winning streak to five, keeping their undefeated record alive.

The last volleyball league championship for the Eagles occurred in 2011 under coach Jeff MacNeill. The team ended the season with an overall record of 9-5-0.

In the following podcast, senior sports journalist Richie Cortez discusses the Eagles’ league success with seniors Megan LeBlanc, Avery Jones, Laura Rauscher and Kayla Vanderlinden.

League monsters

This year, Fresno Christian leads the East Sierra league, undefeated against their opponents. According to Maxpreps, the girls have lost three sets out of 23 against league opponents. 

WCPA is on the heels of league champions as they come up one game behind the Eagles. The only loss WCPA suffered this year was with a final score of 3-1 against the Eagles, Oct. 1.

The FC seniors had a great performance, combining 21 kills, two blocks and 23 digs overall against the Wolves.

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

The FC seniors combined 21 kills, two blocks and 23 digs overall against the WCPA Wolves, Oct. 1. Kayla Vanderlinden, ‘20, spikes during the match.

Throughout the league season, Fresno Christian has come out with a win at the end of each league match-up. Senior Megan LeBlanc provides background on the work the team has put in to earning a league title. 

“We’ve put lots of hard work into our season,” LeBlanc said. “We lost five seniors and there’s only three returning varsity players. We put a lot of hard work and practice by playing teams that are division two, division three and teams that are better than us to get more practice in.” 

Kayla Vanderlinden, ‘20, has played volleyball since 5th grade at Fresno Christian. She has played with several classes of seniors during her time at FC and concludes her time on the court as senior night rolls around. Vanderlinden discusses how this group of seniors holds up to last years 2019 group. 

“I feel last year seniors had a lot of energy,” Vanderlinden said. “We need to try and match that energy and play to their level. Last year, I wasn’t much of a leader as I am this year, but being able to step up and be someone others can look up to. It’s a really cool experience. This year means so much to me and I want us to do as well as we can, but no matter what we’re going to have so much fun.” 

In the following tweet added after the match, FC defeated WCPA of Delano, Oct, 17. Watch the final out of the match.

Preparation for league playoffs

The overall season hasn’t been easy for the lady Eagles. With their 12-17 overall record, the girls put in hours of practice, playing against higher division teams such as Madera, Lemoore and Atascadero. Senior Avery Jones explains the different levels of intensity against higher division teams compared to teams within their league.

“I think it was really good for our team to come out with hard competition,” Jones said. “It got us prepared for league and for playoff we’re going to be placed in a higher division and play those types of teams. So I think it’s good for our team to experience the fast pace play of those teams.”

Paige Provost | The Feather Online

This year FC leads the East Sierra league, undefeated against their opponents. Senior Megan LeBlanc passes the ball in a recent October match.

Seniors Megan LeBlanc, Avery Jones, Laura Rauscher and Kayla Vanderlinden head into the last couple sets of their high school career. As their final home game in a Fresno Christian uniform is Oct. 17, Jones talks about how even though she joined the team only two years ago, the team feels like family.

“This is my only second year and it’s been really fun,” Jones said. I don’t think I’ve ever played a sport more team oriented. I feel close to everyone and I know that my teammates have my back and I have theirs. It’s going to be fun finishing off league with senior night.”

The Eagles, Wolves and remaining league teams prepare to face off at the conference tournament to wrap-up ESL play in the FC gym, Oct. 19. This tournament determines seeding for the post-season.

For more of Cortez’s interviews, check out Richie Cortez discusses Bekah Micu’s return from injury and Angel Ruelas eyes professional soccer career after Italian trip.

Richie Cortez can be reached via Twitter @richie_cortez9 and via email.

The slideshow below highlights the seniors on the varsity volleyball team.

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