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Hilmar advances to seventh straight section semifinal
Hilmar volley
Hilmar’s Mikela Labno (15) and Sara Chavez (13) go up in the air for a block during Thursday’s 3-0 win over Pioneer in the second round of the Division-III Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Hilmar’s varsity volleyball team is back where they have been for the past seven seasons — the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals – but this time in Division-III after topping No. 5 Pioneer from home on Thursday, 3-0. 

“It is pretty awesome... and tough to do, but Hilmar has such great athletes here, they really do,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris.

With the win, Hilmar is now 30-10 overall. 

The first set saw Hilmar take a seven-point lead and then they went on a 7-5 run to end it 25-16. 

The second was a battle that went back and forth and Pioneer even took a two-point lead at one point. 

It didn’t last long as Hilmar rallied to eventually take a 25-19 win. 

Hilmar won the third set convincingly, 25-15. 

Liv Peterson finished the game with a team-high 16 kills and added two blocks. 

Emma Martin tallied a team-high 31 assists. Alondra Huerta added six aces. Julia Gonsalves tallied 11 digs.

“A lot of aces tonight, but we had to outsmart them, we just had to play as smart as we could,” said Harris. 

No. 4 Hilmar will next travel on the road to take on No. 1 Nevada Union at 7 p.m. 

“We will be as ready as can be for Nevada Union. We will see what we can do to really get an edge since it is volleyball and when you get here the mistake margin is so little,” Harris added. “Now we get to look at Nevada Union, but we specifically focus on what the opposing team does. We look at the opposition’s tendencies and we map it out.”