For the fifth consecutive season, the Hilmar High varsity volleyball team will be competing in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV Championship game after beating out Union Mine, 3-0, in the semifinals on Tuesday from home.
“We are back, and we are excited. It’s tough to get there, and it’s a privilege,” said Hilmar head coach Patti Harris, who has led the team to this feat. “It’s been a long road trip for these girls playing over 40 games. Tonight, we were prepared and took notes and watched film on Union Mine.”
Hilmar improves to 28-13 overall and have won five straight after defeating UM.
It seemed like an easy journey for the Yellowjackets, who came into the semifinal having won their first two postseason games in straight sets.
The outcome was the same in the semifinal, only UM made Hilmar earn their wins.
The first set saw both teams exchange points back and forth, until the ‘Jackets tipped the scales and won 25-21.
They continued their streak and won the second set after a 25-11 final.
“They have improved absolutely. We were solid at the beginning of the season and all the hard tournaments and pressure and these girls are really tightening it up,” said Harris. “Our defense is outstanding and offense is powerful; it’s a good complete team, lot of balance this year.”
Hilmar has been anchored by their three powerful seniors in Mariah Ahid, Erin Benning and Hannah Pearce, all difference makers who have been the staple of the team, however, coach Harris has as much depth as she has ever had to compliment her captains this year.
These three will advance to their fourth straight Section Championship game.
“Everyone is super excited going into the Section final,” said Harris. “I have some really tough and good players and we have some that have been there and it’s a plus, always high intensity, Mariah, Hannah and Erin been there four times so these girls can do it.”
The Yellowjackets won the third set 25-18 to punch their ticket back to the final.
The last four years, Hilmar has been countered by just two teams in the finale, Sonora and Ripon, but they are hoping that this is the year they finally get the blue banner.
“It’s just another game and everyone just needs to do their job and keep positivity out on the court like we been working all year; positivity brings positive play,” said Harris. “It’s about the team and this team has really gotten strong this season.”
Mikela Labno added 11 kills on Tuesday. Hannah Pearce finished with 30 assists. Erin Benning and Olivia Peterson each added a block. Julia Gonsalves added a team-high 24 digs. Pearce, Peterson, Mariah Ahid and Michaela Petersen each added two aces apiece.
The Yellowjackets will face Bret Harte in the D-IV final from Gregori High in Modesto at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“Travel just to Gregori, not have to go to an hour and a half, that is great, fans will be there, big crowd tonight but always get a lot of energy,” Harris added. “It’s exciting, we are all excited.”