Hilmar High's hopes of claiming a share of the Trans Valley League volleyball championship evaporated Tuesday night when unbeaten Escalon High rolled into town. In a match reminiscent of the rivals’ meeting earlier in the year, the Cougars beat the Yellowjackets 3-1 (14-25, 26-24, 25-27, and 25-19). Although missing out on the league title was a bitter pill to swallow, giving up their only losses of the season to Escalon was even tougher for Hilmar.
The Cougars (11-0 TVL) kicked Tuesday off with a dominating first set. Escalon found holes in Hilmar’s defense throughout and took advantage of the ‘Jackets’ inability to finish. Hilmar bounced back in the second set, forcing Escalon errors and earning points. At one point Hilmar held a sizeable lead over Escalon but seven straight Cougar points quickly erased it, setting up a tie at 24 points apiece. The 'Jackets applied pressure on Escalon and earned the victory with two straight points.
The third set was another closely contested one that saw the rival TVL teams go point for point. The last leg of the match saw seven separate ties and eight lead changes, the most important of which came at the 25th point where Escalon orchestrated an impressive comeback effort. By the halfway point of the fourth set Hilmar’s players were tired and discouraged, making the Cougars’ job easier.
Hilmar now has one final match in the TVL against Ripon High before its playoff run begins.