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Hilmar falls in Section final
hilmar volley
Hilmar senior Haylee Pearce gets ready to set up Whitney Williams for a kill attempt during Friday's D-IV CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament championship game against Sonora. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

The Hilmar High volleyball team went into Friday's Section championship game against Sonora looking for a very different outcome than last year's matchup. The Yellowjackets left the UC Davis court disappointed, however, because for the second straight year Sonora outplayed Hilmar to take the banner.


Sonora won Friday's Division-IV Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament finale in straight sets, (14-25, 8-25 and 7-25).


“Sonora is a very strategic team and once they started tipping, hitting and blocking us, that is what really brings a team down and that is what they did to us,” said senior Haylee Pearce.


From the start, nothing went right for Hilmar on the grand stage as they started a handful of underclassmen against Sonora, who was literally the exact same team as last year—but better.


“Sonora is a seasoned team. They are all seniors and it was the exact same team as last year,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris. “I told our team, before we played, how proud I am of them because we surprised a lot of people being as young as we are.”


The 'Jackets, who started two freshmen, had a tough time throughout most of the game causing unforced errors, missing serves and really just playing out of rhythm.


“There was a lot of us who had the jitters and were nervous since it's Sections and we over-thought it but Sonora is a good all around team,” said junior co-captain Emily Baptista. “I think we also had some missing pieces and other components didn't fit well for this game against Sonora.”


Sonora, on the other hand, committed only eight errors throughout the contest.


They scattered their kills from top to bottom as five players for the Wildcats had at least seven or more kills for the match.


Freshman Riley Patterson had a team-high in kills with 12 and she added on 12 digs.


In total, Sonora finished with 61 digs and 46 total kills for the game.


“We had lots of good touches tonight,” said Sonora head coach Kim Evans.


The first match was close for Hilmar, but Sonora's 14-5 run at the end finished off the first set with an 11-point victory.


Hilmar never let up during the final two sets, but Sonora buried their kills and dug out every kill attempt from the 'Jackets.


Despite losing, Hilmar will continue their season at the Nor Cal tournament next week.


They finish off the year with a 38-8 overall record and as the Trans Valley League champions.


“Our girls worked hard and overcame a lot throughout the entire season and did a lot to get here,” Harris said.


Hilmar's first matchup in Nor Cal's will be announced Sunday afternoon and the match is scheduled for Tuesday against an opponent yet to be named in an undetermined location.