From left, McKinley King (Central Catholic), Leityn Romero (Waterford), Cierra Thibodeau (Orestimba), Sophia Alamo (Hilmar), Felicity Still (Hughson) and Abigail Glenn (Turlock Christian) pose for a photo after receiving $300 scholarships during the Stanislaus District All-Star Volleyball Game on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, at Pitman High School in Turlock, Calif. (Joe Cortez/Front Row Preps)

Regional stars showcase their volleyball talents one final time

Joe Cortez

TURLOCK — High school all-star competitions aren’t about winning or losing. Sure, the competitive juices get flowing during the action, but the end result is rarely the focus.

Honoring standout players and giving them one last chance to showcase their talents is what all-star games are all about.

And there was an abundance of talent showcased Sunday at Pitman High School.

Twenty-two schools responsible for 43 combined Sac-Joaquin Section banners were represented in the third annual Stanislaus District All-Star Volleyball Game, presented by Denair Lumber Co.

“I’ve had parents and grandparents come up to me, saying, ‘Thanks for having this event,’” said Aaron King, the game’s coordinator. “That’s spurred us to create an event that empowers girls.”

The festivities were divided in two contests — one for small schools and another for large schools.

The North All-Stars swept the South 25-13, 25-17, 25-13 in the small-school contest, while the North overcame a 2-0 deficit in the large-school game to beat the South 17-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-17, 16-14.  

Central Catholic’s Kate Cover was name MVP of the small-schools game, totaling three kills, two blocks, two assists and two ace serves.

“There’s a ton of amazing players out here,” said Cover, who helped the Raiders reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinals this fall. “I’ve played club with a lot of them, and just to be considered the best by the coaches, it really shows me that my hard work paid off.

“It’s just a great honor.”

Turlock High’s Abby Cogburn was the MVP in the large-schools game with 19 kills, 10 digs and two aces, earning the award despite the fact she was on the losing side.

“To me, it was all about playing with the best of the best girls in the area, and really just having one more time to play together,” said Cogburn. “I’m just thankful to God everyday that I’m able come out here and play this game. I couldn’t be MVP without the girls around, so it was really cool.”

More than just an all-star showcase, the Stanislaus District game is more akin to a one-day jamboree, with food trucks, T-shirt and ice cream vendors, raffle prizes, a silent auction … and a total of $3,300 in scholarships doled out to 11 players.

Small-school all-stars Sophia Alamo (Hilmar), Abigail Glenn (Turlock Christian), McKinley King (Central Catholic), Leityn Romero (Waterford), Felicity Still (Hughson) and Cierra Thibodeau (Orestimba) were recipients of $300 scholarships, while McKenna Alderman (Sonora), Skyler Dietz (Buhach Colony), Celina Henn (Buhach Colony), Taylor Hemiller (Enochs), Taylor Vannest (Pitman) were large-school recipients.

Leilani Aguilera (Gustine) was the small-school Esprit de Corps Award winner, while Bella Chapin (Ripon) was named best defensive player. Sarah Browning (Downey) was the large-school Esprit de Corps winner, while Breelie Gibson (Oakdale) was best on defense.