The 2019 boys volleyball season is underway and the Hilmar High Yellowjackets are off to a 10-9 start following Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Ceres High in a home pre-league meeting.
League is set to kick off next week for Hilmar and head coach Fatima Handy, who has years of experience coaching volleyball, looks to be ready with a squad that lacks experience on the court.
The ‘Jackets will be struggling to continue without one of their standouts, however.
“We are down one of our terminators, Will Tate. He’s a huge impact… [we’re] learning how to make up those points and definitely a learning curve,” said Handy. “We beat Weston Ranch the game before, but against Ceres, we didn’t pass well.”
Hilmar is now 1-2 over the last three games without Tate.
Hilmar returns three of its four all-league selections. This includes Tate along with Colton Silveira and Ethan Aiken, a goalkeeper who just won a section title with the boys soccer team, as well as the football team in the fall.
“It is huge having all three of them back. What is happening is now some of the others have to take some pressure that they have not felt before and some of the kids are thriving and they know what it’s going to feel like,” said Handy. “[The goal is to] find the silver lining and develop them faster because we are calling their number now.”
Handy is expecting stiff competition in league from Ripon Christian and Livingston.
“Right now, Livingston, Ripon Christian and Hilmar will be in the hunt. RC is really good and Livingston is solid as well. Going to come down to those three,” Handy added.
Tate is expected to return once league kicks off.
“We have a realistic goal and when you are an athlete you live in the red and need to know how to bounce back. I have full confidence because he has his head in the right place,” Handy said about Tate.
Hilmar will kick off league play on the road at Ripon High at 6 p.m. Thursday.